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Dr. C. Sylvester Green 









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COMMENTARY ON THE ROMANS, (completed.) \ ~ , T 


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TAUGHT IN THAT LITTLE BOOK?" — Archbishop GHndal. 

[<$nt?rf& at Stationer»' f&jall.] 






On no portion of the New Testament have so many Com- 
mentaries been written as on the Epistle to the Romans. 
We have indeed no separate Comment extant by any of the 
Fathers on this Epistle ; though it has been explained, to- 
gether with other parts of Scripture, by Origen in the third 
century ; by Jerome, Chrysostom, and in part by Augustine, 
in the fourth ; by Theodoret in the fifth ; by (Ecumenius in 
the tenth ; and by Theophylact in the eleventh century. 
But since the Reformation, many separate Expositions have 
been published, beside a learned Introduction by Luther, 
and Notes or Scholia by Zuingle and Melancthon. 

The first complete Commentary, as it appears, was written 
by Bullinger ; the second by Bucer, a Professor of Theology 
at Cambridge for a short time in the reign of Edward the 
Sixth ; and the next in order of time was this Work by 
Calvin, composed at Strasburg in the year 1539. The 
fourth was by Peter Martyr ; and this was translated into 
English in the year 1568. Another was afterwards publish- 
ed by Rodolph Oualter, Minister at Zurich. 

Early in the next century the learned Pareus 1 delivered 
lectures on this Epistle, as Professor of Theology in the Uni- 
versity of Heidelberg — a work of great learning and of great 
merits, though written in a style too scholastic to suit the 
taste of the present day. His special object was to rebut 
the arguments and expose the sophistries of Popish writers, 

1 His original name was Wangler, but he Grecised it, as Erasmus had 
done, and as others did in that age. 


particularly those of Bellarmine, the acutest, the subtlest, 
and the most learned of all the Jesuits of his own age, and 
perhaps of any in after ages. There is hardly a subject in 
any measure connected with the contents of this Epistle 
which Parens does not discuss : at the end of every chapter 
a number of questions are stated and answered, especially 
such as refer to the disputes between Papists and Protest- 
ants. He also controverts the perversions of Socinianism. 

The next work that requires particular notice is that ofTur- 
rettin, a Professor of Theology in the University of Geneva. 
It was published about the commencement of the last cen- 
tury ; the author died in the year 1737. The doctrine of 
Calvin had somewhat degenerated in his time, though his 
work on the whole takes the side of orthodoxy. It yet 
shows a leaning to those views, which commonly issue in 
sentiments' subversive of the essentials of true Christianity. 

The first Commentary published in this country, composed 
in English, was by Elnathan Parr, B.D., Rector of Palgrave 
in Suffolk. He was, as it appears, the personal friend of Sir 
Nathaniel Bacon, an elder brother of Lord Bacon. He de- 
dicated his work to Sir Nathaniel, and speaks of him as 
having been a hearer of what he published when delivered 
from the pulpit. 1 His style is that of his age, and appears 
quaint now ; but his thoughts are often very striking and 
truly excellent, and his sentiments are wholly in accordance 
with those of the Reformers. 

Since that time Until this century, no work of any note 
has appeared separately on this Epistle. But within the 
last thirty years several Commentaries have been published. 
Besides those of Flatt and Tholuck in Germany, three at 
least have appeared in this country, and three in America. 
The authors in America are Moses Stuart, M.A., Professor of 
Sacred Literature at Andover, in Massachusetts, the Rev. 
Albert Barnes, and Charles Hodge, Professor of Biblical 
Literature at Princeton. Those in this country are the Rev. 
J. Fry, Rector of Desford, Leicestershire, Robert Haldane, 

1 This work must have been published before the year 1615, for his 
patron died in that year. The copy seen by the writer is the third edition, 
and was published in 1633. 


Esq., and Dr. Chalmers. The doctrine held by Calvin is 
essentially maintained in all these works, and in most of 
them in its fullest extent. 

Of our American brethren, the most learned and the most 
versed in criticisms is Professor Stuart ; the fullest and the 
minutest expositor is the Rev. A. Barnes ; and the acutest 
and the most concise commentator is Professor Hodge. The 
two first seem, in some instances, like Turrettin, to deviate 
somewhat from what may be considered strict orthodoxy, at 
least in their mode of explaining some subjects : the last is 
liable to no charge of this kind. 

Respecting our own countrymen, there is a more perfect 
unanimity, though they belonged to- different Churches. 
The Lectures of the Rev. J. Fry are those of a strict Predes- 
tinarian, and yet replete with remarks, both experimental 
and practical. The layman, R. Haldane, Esq., has display- 
ed very high qualifications as an expositor ; he is strictly 
and even stiffly orthodox, and can brook no deviation from 
what he regards as the truth. Of Dr. Chalmers' Lectures, 
comprised in four volumes, 12mo, it is difficult to pronounce 
an opinion. They are the productions of a philosopher, and 
one of the highest grade, who, at the same time, possessed 
the heart and the experience of an humble Christian. He 
expatiates over the whole field of truth with the eye of an 
eagle, and with the docility of a child, without ever over- 
leaping the boundaries of revelation. He was evidently a 
man by himself, taller by his shoulders than most men, 
either in this or in any other age, having a mind as sound 
as it was vigorous, an imagination as sober as it was. crea- 
tive, and a capacity to illustrate and to amplify quite un- 

All these works have their peculiar excellencies, adapted 
to different tastes and capacities, and no doubt they have 
their defects: The same must be said of Calvin's . work. 
But as a concise and lucid Commentator he certainly excels. 
He is not so much an expounder of words, as of principles. 
He carries on an unbroken chain of reasoning throughout, 
in a brief and clear manner. Having well considered the 
main drift of a passage, he sets before us what it contains, 


by a brief statement, or by a clear process of reasoning ; and 
often by a single sentence he throws light on a whole pas- 
sage : and though his mind possessed more vigour of intel- 
lect and sound good sense, than what is called imagination ; 
yet there are some fine thoughts occasionally occurring, 
beautifully expressed, to which that faculty must have given 
birth. There is also a noble grandeur and dignity in his 
sentiments, rarely to be found in other writers. 

Professor Stuart has justly characterized this Work by 
saying, that it contains " fundamental investigation of the 
logic and course of thought contained in the Epistle ;" 
and that it embraces " very little verbal criticism. Many a 
difficulty is solved without any appearance of effort, or any 
show of learning. Calvin," he adds, " is by far the most 
distinguished of all the Commentators of his times/' 

It was mainly to supply the defect named above, the want 
of verbal criticism, that Notes have been added in the present 
Edition. They are also designed to furnish the reader with 
such expositions as have been suggested by posterior critics 
and commentators. And as we are generally desirous of 
knowing the names of authors, they have been for the most 
part given. Much light is thrown on a passage by convey- 
ing the full meaning of the original. This has been done 
partly by giving such different versions as seemed most en- 
titled to approbation, and partly by referring to other pas- 
sages where such words occur : so that a common reader, 
unacquainted with the original, may, to a certain extent, 
have the advantage of one well versed in the Greek lan- 

Variety of meanings given to words, and also to passages, 
has been deemed by some to lessen the certainty of truth, 
but without any solid reason ; for this variety, as found in 
the works of all sound and judicious critics, seldom or ever 
affects any thing important, either in doctrine, experience, 
or practice, and tends often to expand the meaning and to 
render it clearer and more prominent. There has been in- 
deed sometimes a prurienc} r in this respect, an unholy ambi- 
tion for novelty, a desire for new discoveries, an indulgence 
of mere curiosity, which have been very injurious. Much of 


this sort of mania prevailed among some of the German 
divines in the last century, as Wolfius clearly shows in his 
works, in which he notices and disproves many vagaries 
.assuming the name of critical expositions ; and much of a 
similar kind of spirit seems to prevail still in that country. 
It is a mania for criticism, for its own sake, without any 
concern or solicitude for the truth : and ingenious criticism 
has often been resorted to by the oppugners of vital Christi- 
anity as means for supporting heterodoxical sentiments. But 
there is a palpable difference between men of this character, 
the mere gladiators of criticism, and those who embrace the 
truth, and whose object it is faithfully to explain it in con- 
sistency with the general tenor of what is revealed, and who 
have what is indispensably necessary for such a work, a 
spiritual experience, which often affords better assistance 
than any critical acumen that can ever be possessed. The 
man who has seen a thing has a much better idea of it than 
the man who has only heard it described. 

Attempts have been made by various authors to show and 
prove, that the style of the Epistles, especially those of 
Paul, is consonant with that of classical writers. Blackwall 
laboured much to do this in this country, as well as many 
German divines, particularly in the last century. In com- 
mon with some of the Fathers, they thought to recommend 
in this way the Apostolic Writings to the attention of liter- 
ary men. But it was a labour not wisely undertaken, as it 
must have necessarily proved abortive : for though some 
phrases may be classical, yet the general style is what might 
have been naturally expected from the writers, brought up, 
as they had all been, in the Jewish religion, and accustomed, 
as they had been, to the writings of the Old Testament. 
Hence their style throughout is Hebraistic ; and the mean- 
ing of many of the Greek words which they use is not to be 
sought from the Classics, but from the Greek Translation of 
the ancient Scriptures, and sometimes from the Hebrew 
itself, of which that is a translation. 1 

1 " The writers of the New Testament, or rather (with reverence be it 
spoken ! ) the Holy Spirit, whose penmen they were, wisely chcse, in ex- 


Much evil and no good must result from a claim that 
cannot be supported : nor is it at all necessary to make such 
a claim. It has been long ago repudiated, and repudiated 
by Paul himself. Writers have often ascribed to Paul what, 
he himself distinctly and entirely disclaimed, and never 
attempted to attain or to practise, and that on principle, 
" Lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect." 
It was not by " excellency of speech" that he courted the 
attention of the classical and refined Grecians, that he re- 
commended the gospel to them ; it was not by the tinsel of 
mere eloquence that he succeeded in his preaching, nor by 
the elegance and beauty of his diction ; but by something 
much higher, much greater, much more powerful and effi- 
cient. We ought to follow his example, and stand on his 
high ground, and not to descend to that which is no better 
than a quagmire. It is a happy thing, and no doubt so 
designed by God, that the shell should not be made of fine 
materials, lest men's minds should be attracted by it and 
neglect the kernel. God might, if he chose, have easily 
endued his Apostles with eloquence more than human, and 
enabled them to write with elegance more than Grecian ; 
but He did not do so, and Paul expressly gives us the rea- 
son, " that our faith should not stand in the wisdom of 
men, but in the power of God." 

It is generally agreed, that the Epistle! to the Romans 
was written at Corinth, and about the end of the year 57, 
or at the beginning of the year 58, and that it is the fifth 
Epistle in order of time ; the two Epistles to the Thessalo- 
nians, the Epistle to the Galatians, and the first to the 
Corinthians, having been previously written. Then followed 
the second Epistle to the Corinthians, the Epistles to the 

pressing evangelical notions, to employ snch Greek terms as had been long 
before used for the same purposes by the Greek Translators of the New 
Testament : and thus the Septuagint version, however imperfect and 
faulty in many particulars, became in this respect, not to the first age of 
the Church only, but also to all succeeding generations, the connecting 
link between the languages of the Old and New Testament, and will be 
regarded in this view as long as sound judgment and real learning shall 
continue among men." — Parkharst. 


Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, Philemon, and the He- 
brews, the first to Timothy, the Epistle to Titus, and the 
second to Timothy. 

The common date assigned to Paul's conversion is a.d. 35. 
He wrote his first Epistle, that is, the first to the Thessa- 
lonians, in 52, seventeen years after his conversion. His 
second Epistle to Timothy, his last, was written from Rome 
in 65. So that he wrote his fourteen Epistles during these 
thirteen years. The whole extent of his ministry seems to 
have been about thirty years ; for it is not supposed that he 
long outlived the date of his second Epistle to Timothy. 
Tradition says, that he was beheaded at Rome, June 29, 
a.d. 66. 

Paul's first coming to Rome was in the spring of the year 
61. He continued there as a prisoner for two years. 1 When 
he was released, most writers are of the opinion, that he re- 
turned early in 63 to Judea, in company with Timothy, and 
left Titus at Crete ; that he visited the Churches in Asia 
Minor, then the Churches in Macedonia ; that he wintered at 
Nicopolis, a city of Epirus, in 64* ; that afterwards he pro- 
ceeded to Crete and also to Corinth ; and that early in 65 
he again visited Rome, was taken prisoner, and beheaded in 
the following year. 2 This account clearly shows that he 
did not accomplish his purpose of visiting Spain, as tradition 
has recorded. 

The first introduction of the Gospel into Rome is in- 
volved in uncertainty. The probability is, that some of 
the " strangers of Rome," present at the day of Pentecost, 
were converted, and at their return promoted the spread of 
the Gospel. Paul mentions two, " Andronicus and Junia/' 
as having professed the faith before him, and as having been 
noted among the Apostles. He makes mention, too, of an- 
other eminent Christian, " Rufus," whose father, as it is 
supposed, carried our Saviour's cross, Mark xv. 21. It is not 
improbable, that these were afterwards assisted by such as 

1 It was while a prisoner at this time at Rome that he wrote his Epistles 
to the Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, Philemon, and the Hebrews 
also; as it is generally supposed. 

2 See Home's Introduction, vol. iv. part ii. ch. iii. sect. 1. 


had been converted under the ministry of Paul ; for he 
speaks of some of those whom he salutes at Rome as being 
"beloved," and as having been his " fellow-workers." 

What some of the Fathers have related was in the first 
instance a tradition, as there was nothing recorded on the 
subject before the latter part of the second century, except 
what has been ascribed to Dionysius of Corinth, preserved 
by Eusebius. Irenceus and Tertullian were the first retail- 
ers of the tradition, that Peter, in conjunction with Paul, 
was the founder of the Church at Rome. This tradition in- 
creased considerably by the time of Jerome, who, in the 
fourth century, says, that Peter had been bishop of Rome 
for twenty-five years ! But this account is so clearly incon- 
sistent with what we learn from the Acts of the Apostles 
respecting Peter, that some of the most reasonable of the 
Papists themselves have given it up as unworthy of credit. 1 

It appears next to a certainty that Peter was not at Rome 
when Paul wrote his Epistle in 57 or 58, for he sends no 
salutation to Peter : — And also that he had not been there 
previous to that time ; for it is wholly unreasonable to sup- 
pose, that, had he been there, Paul would have made no re- 
ference to his labours. It further amounts almost to a cer- 
tainty, that Peter was not at Rome when Paul was for two 
years a prisoner there, from 6*1 to 63 ; for he makes no men- 
tion of him in any way, not even in the four or five Epistles 
which he wrote during that time : And that Peter was not 
at Rome during Paul's last imprisonment in 65 and 66, is 
evident from the second Epistle to Timothy ; for he makes 
no mention of Peter, and what he says of Christians there, 
that they " all forsook him," would have been highly dis- 
creditable to Peter, if he was there. So that we have the 

1 The inconsistencies of what the retailers of this tradition say, are quite 
palpable. Irenceus affirms, that " the Church at Rome was founded and 
constituted (J'unclata et constitute/,) by the two Apostles, Peter and Paul." 
Epiphanius says, that they were the first " Bishops" at Rome, as well as 
Apostles, while Irenceus declares, that they both " delivered the episcopal 
office into the hands of Linus ;" and it is said in what are called the Apos- 
tolical Constitutions, that " Linus was ordained bishop by Paul, and Cle- 
ment after the death of Linus by Peter." — See Dr. Barrow on the Pope's 
Supremacy, pp. 127-129. 


strongest reasons to conclude, that Peter had no part in 
forming and establishing a Church in Rome during Paul's 
life, whatever share in the work he might have had after- 
wards. 1 But the first tradition, or the first account, given 
by Irenceus and Tertullian, refers only to a co-operation : 
and yet this co-operation is wholly inconsistent with what 
has been stated, the force of which no reasonable man can 

The learned Parens proceeds in a different way to prove 
that Peter was never at Rome. He shows from different 
parts of the Acts of the Apostles and the Epistle to the 
Galatians, that Peter was in Judea at the time when tradi- 
tion declares that he was at Rome. Peter was in Judea 
when Paul was converted, Acts ix. ; and three years after 
this — that is, in the year 38, Gal. i. 18. He was in Judea in 
the year 45, when he was imprisoned by Herod, Acts xii. ; 
and in 49, fourteen years after Paul's conversion, Acts xv. ; 
Gal. ii. 1-9. Had he been to Rome during this time, some 
account of such a journey must surely have been given. 
After this time we find that he was at Antioch, Gal. ii. 11. 
If it be asked, where did he afterwards exercise his minis- 
try ? Where more likely than among the Jews, as he had 
hitherto most clearly done ; for he was the Apostle of the 
Circumcision, and among those to whom he sent his Epis- 
tles. The dating of the first at " Babylon/' has led some to 
conjecture that it was a figurative term for Rome ; but why 
not for Jerusalem, or for Antioch ? for Christians were at 
that time treated everywhere like captives or aliens, and 
especially in the land of Judea, 

What then are we to say as to this tradition ? The same, 
according to the just remark of Parens, as what we must 
say of many other traditions of that age, that it is nothing 

1 But this cannot be admitted, as the same informant, Tradition, tells 
us, that Peter and Paul suffered martyrdom at the same time. The only 
thing which Peter appears to have had to do in forming and founding a 
Church at Rome, was to have been the instrument in the conversion, at 
the day of Pentecost, of those who in all probability were the first who in- 
troduced the Gospel into Rome : and it is probable that it was this circum- 
stance which occasioned the tradition, that he had been the founder of that 
Church. Less occasion has often produced tales of this kind. 


but a fable, which, like many others, would have passed 
away, had it not been allied to a growing superstition. 
With respect to what Eusebius says of the testimony of a 
presbyter, named Caius, that about the beginning of the 
third century he saw the graves of Peter and Paul at Rome, 
it may be easily accounted for: it was the age of pious 
fraud, when the relics of saints could be found almost every- 
where ; and, in the next century, the wood and the nails of 
the Cross were discovered ! Those who can believe these 
things, may have a credulity large enough to swallow up the 
testimony of Gains. 1 

The most probable account, then, of the commencement 
of a Christian Church at Rome, is what has been already 
stated. The condition of that Church, when Paul wrote to 
it, we may in a great measure learn from the Epistle itself. 
It had a high character, viewed in a general way ; but there 
were some defects and blemishes. Its faith had been widely 
reported : there were at the same time some contentions and 
divisions among its members, arising especially from the 
prejudices of the Jewish believers. To remove the causes of 
this dissension, was evidently one of the main objects of 
Paul in this Epistle. 

The order and arrangement of the Epistle have been 
somewhat differently viewed by different authors. Pareus 
includes the whole in this brief summary — " The Jews and 

1 Let it not be supposed, that by discrediting some things, we discredit 
every thing said by the Fathers. They ought to be treated as all other 
historians. What we find on examination to be unfounded, ought to be 
so viewed : and what we have every reason to believe to be true, ought to 
be so received. Even such a man as Dr. Lardncr seemed unwilling to 
reject this tale, from fear of lessening the credit of history ; evidently mis- 
taking the ground on which history has a title to credit. The many author- 
ities adduced respecting Peter being at Rome may be reduced almost to 
two — Irenceus and Tertullian. They were the first to stamp as it were a 
kind of authority on this report, and also on others to which no credit is 
given even by those who would have the Fathers to have been almost in- 

The learned Dr. Copleston, the present Bishop of Landaff, in his 
pamphlet on the Errors of Romanism, justly says, " It is even a matter of 
serious doubt whether St. Peter was ever at Rome. There is no good 
historical evidence of the fact ; and there is much probability against it." 
—P. 87. 


Gentiles are equally guilty ; they are equally justified freely 
by faith in Christ, without works ; they are equally bound 
to lead a holy life, to be humble, and to love one another." 
Stuart says, that the whole of what the Epistle contains may 
be expressed in a single brief sentence — " Christ our justifi- 
cation and sanctification." 

In giving a more specific view of the contents of this 
Epistle, the former author divides it into two parts — doc- 
trinal, i.-xi. ; and hortative, xii.-xvi. : but the latter divides 
it into three parts — doctrinal, i.-viii. ; answers to objections, 
ix.-xi. ; and hortatory, xii.-xvi. The analysis of Professor 
Hodge, who takes the same view with Professor Stuart, is 
the following : — 

" The Epistle consists of three parts. The first, which in- 
cludes the first eight chapters, is occupied in the discussion 
of The Doctrine of Justification and its consequences. The 
second, embracing chapters ix., x., xi., treats of The Calling 
of the Gentiles, The Rejection and Future Conversion of the 
Jews. The third consists of Practical Exhortations and 
Salutations to the Christians at Rome/' 

A more particular analysis may be thus given : — 

I. Address — A desire to visit Rome — a brief View of The 
Gospel ; i. 1-18. 

II. Justification, — 

1. A proof of its necessity — the sin and guilt of both Gen- 

tiles and Jews, i., from ver. 18 ; ii., iii., to ver. 21. 

2. Its Nature and Character — Examples, Abraham and 

David, iii., from ver. 21, iv. 

3. Its Effects or Fruits — Peace and Fulness of Grace, v. ; 

Death unto Sin and Eternal Life, vi. ; Immunity 
from The Law and The Reigning Power of Sin, vii. ; 
Holiness, The Spirit's help, Patience in Afflictions, 
Perseverance, viii. 

III. God's dealings vindicated, — 

1. Election and Reprobation, ix. 

2. Unbelief and Faith, x. 

3. The Rejection of the Jews, The Adoption of the Gen- 

tiles, The Restoration of the Jews, xi. 


IV. Christian duties, — 

1. Devotedness to God, Proper Use of Gifts, Love, Doing 

Good, xii. 

2. Obedience to Authority, Love to all, Purity, xiii. 

3. Forbearance towards Weak Brethren, xiv. 

4. Help to the Weak, Unanimity, Christ the Saviour of 

Jews and Gentiles, xv., to ver. 13. 

V. Conclusion, — 

1. Paul's Labours and Purpose to Visit Rome, xv., from 

ver. 13. 

2. Salutations, Avoiding Disturbers, Promise of Victory, 

Praise to God, xvi. 

We have set before us in this Epistle especially two 
things, which it behoves us all rightly to understand — the 
righteousness of man and the righteousness of God — merit 
and grace, or salvation by works and salvation by faith. 
The light in which they are exhibited here is clearer and 
brighter than what we find in any other portion of Scripture, 
with the exception, perhaps, of the Epistle to the Galatians. 
Hence the great value which has in every age been attached 
to this Epistle by all really enlightened Christians ; and 
hence also the strenuous efforts which have often been made 
to darken and wrest its meaning by men, though acute and 
learned, yet destitute of spiritual light. But let not the 
simple Christian conclude from the contrariety that is often 
found in the expositions on these two points, that there is 
no certainty in what is taught respecting them. There are 
no contrary views given of them by spiritually-minded men. 
Though on other subjects discussed here, such men have 
had their differences, yet on these they have ever been 
found unanimous : that salvation is from first to last by 
grace, and not by works, has ever been the conviction of 
really enlightened men in every age, however their opinions 
may have varied in other respects. 

It may seem very strange, when we consider the plain 
and decisive language, especially of this Epistle, and the 
clear and conclusive reasoning which it exhibits, that any 
attempt should ever be made by a reasonable being, ac- 


knowledging the authority of Scripture, to pervert what it 
plainly teaches, and to evade what it clearly proves. But a 
right view of what human nature is, when unrenewed, as 
exhibited in God's Word, and as proved by history and 
made evident by observation, enables us fully to account for 
what would otherwise remain an enigma. No truth is more 
fully confirmed by facts (and- it ought ever to be remem- 
bered) than that " the natural man receiveth not the things 
of the Spirit of God," and that he " cannot know them, 
because they are spiritually discerned." This declaration 
clearly accounts for the fact, that men of great learning 
have often misunderstood many things in Scripture, and 
such things as are plain enough even to the unlettered when 
spiritually enlightened. The learned Scribes and Rabbins 
were blind leaders of the blind, when even babes understood 
the mysteries of the kingdom of God : and no better than 
the Scribes are many learned men, professing Christianity, 
in our day. 

There is indeed a special reason why, on these points, un- 
enlightened men should contrive means to evade the obvious 
meaning of Scripture ; for they are such things as come in 
constant contact with a principle, the strongest that belongs 
to human nature in its fallen state. Other doctrines may 
be held as speculations, and kept, as it were, at a distance ; 
but when we come to merit and grace, to work and faith, 
man's pride is touched ; and as long as he is under its pre- 
vailing influence, he will be certain, in some way or another, 
direct or evasive, to support merit in opposition to grace, or 
works in opposition to faith. When the authority of tradi- 
tion supplanted the authority of Scripture, the doctrine of 
merit so prevailed, that the preposterous idea, that merits 
were a saleable and a transferable commodity, gained ground 
in the world. A notion of this kind is too gross and absurd 
to be entertained by any who acknowledge God's Word as 
the only umpire in religion ; and yet what is not essentially 
different has often been maintained ; for to say that salva- 
tion is partly by faith and partly by works, is really the same 
thing, inasmuch as the principle of merit is thereby admit- 
ted. Man naturally cleaves to his own righteousness ; all 



those who are ignorant are self-righteous, and all the learned 
who understand not the gospel ; and it is wonderful what 
ingenious evasions and learned subtleties men will have re- 
course to in order to resist the plain testimony of Scripture. 
When they cannot maintain their ground as advocates of sal- 
vation alone by merits, they will attempt to maintain it as 
advocates of a system, which allows a part to grace and a 
part to works — an amalgamation which Paul expressly re- 
pudiates, Rom. xi. 6. 

But it is remarkable how the innate disposition of man 
has displayed itself in this respect. Conscious, as it were, 
in some measure of moral imperfections, he has been striv- 
ing for the most part to merit his salvation by ceremonial 
works. This has been the case in all ages with heathens : 
their sacrifices, austerities, and mechanical devotions were 
their merits ; they were the works by which they expected 
to obtain happiness. God favoured the people of Israel with 
the rituals of religion, which were designed merely as aids 
and means to attain and preserve true religion ; but they 
converted them to another purpose, and, like the heathens, 
regarded them as meritorious performances, and expected 
God's acceptance for the very religious acts which they ex- 
ercised : and in order to make up, as it were, a sufficient 
quantity of merit, they made additions to those services 
which God had appointed, as though to multiply acts of this 
kind was to render their salvation more certain. The very 
same evil crept early into the Christian Church, and still 
continues to exist. The accumulation of ceremonies is of 
itself a sufficient proof, that salvation by faith was in a great 
measure lost sight of: we want no other evidence ; it is 
what has been ever done whenever the light of truth has 
become dim and obscure. We see the same evil in the 
present day. Outward privileges and outward acts of 
worship are in effect too often substituted for that grace 
which changes the heart, and for that living faith which 
unites us to the Saviour, which works by love and over- 
comes the world. The very disposition to over-value ex- 
ternal privileges and the mere performances of religious 
duties, is an unequivocal evidence, that salvation by faith is 


not understood, or very imperfectly understood, and not really 

The only remedy, as means for this evil, is that which 
we find employed by Paul in this Epistle. He begins by 
showing what every man, Jew and Gentile, is by nature ; he 
proves by the clearest evidence, that all have sinned and be- 
come guilty before God. And having done this, he discloses 
the way of salvation which God himself has planned and 
revealed ; and he teaches us, that it is altogether by grace 
and through faith that we can be saved, and not by works. 
In order cordially to embrace this latter truth, it is neces- 
sary to know the first, that we are sinners under condemna- 
tion. It is impossible, according to the very constitution of 
man's mind, that he should really and truly accede to the 
one, without a real and deep knowledge of the other. The 
whole need not a physician, but the sick. It is only he who 
is really convinced of sin and who feels its guilt and its 
burden intolerable, that ever will, or indeed ever can, really 
lay hold on that free salvation which God has provided. 
And when this free salvation is really known, all other 
things compared with it will be deemed as nothing ; and 
then all outward privileges will be viewed only as means, 
and all outward acts of religion only as aids and helps ; and 
then also all our works, however great and self-denying, will 
be regarded in no way meritorious, but imperfect and defec- 
tive, and acceptable only through the merits of our High 
Priest at God's right hand. 

It has not been deemed necessary to give in this Edition 
any specimens of title-pages, &c, from former Editions, either 
in Latin or in English ; as they are to be found in the Old 
Translation already in the hands of the subscribers. 

J. 0. 

Thrussington, August 1849. 









I remember that when three years ago we had a friendly- 
converse as to the best mode of expounding Scripture, the 
plan which especially pleased you, seemed also to me the 
most entitled to approbation : we both thought that the 
chief excellency of an expounder consists in lucid brevity. 
And, indeed, since it is almost his only work to lay open 
the mind of the writer whom he undertakes to explain, the 
degree in which he leads away his readers from it, in that 
degree he goes astray from his purpose, and in a manner 
wanders from his own boundaries. Hence we expressed a 
hope, that from the number of those who strive at this day 
to advance the interest of theology by this kind of labour, 
some one would be found, who would study plainness, and 
endeavour to avoid the evil of tiring his readers with pro- 
lixity. I know at the same time that this view is not taken 

1 The account given of Grynoeus by Wathins in his Biographical Dic- 
tionary, taken from Moreri, is the following : — " A learned German, born 
at Veringen, in Hohenzollern, in 1493. He studied at Vienna, after which 
he became Rector of the school at Baden, but was thrown into prison for 
espousing the Lutheran doctrines. However, he recovered his liberty, and 
went to Heidelberg, afterwards to Basil, and, in 1531, he visited England. 
In 1536 he returned to Basil, and died there in 1540." It is somewhat 
singular, that in the same year, 1540, another learned man of the same 
name, John James Grynczus, was born at Berne, and was educated at 
Basil, and became distinguished for his learning. — Ed. 


by all, and that those who judge otherwise have their rea- 
sons ; but still I cannot be drawn away from the love of 
what is compendious. But as there is such a variety, found 
in the minds of men, that different things please different 
persons, let every one in this case follow his own judgment, 
provided that no one attempts to force others to adopt his 
own rules. Thus it will be, that we who approve of brevity, 
will not reject nor despise the labours of those who are more 
copious and diffused in their explanations of Scripture, and 
that they also in their turn will bear with us, though they 
may think us too compressed and concise. 

I indeed could not have restrained myself from attempt- 
ing something to benefit the Church of God in this way. I 
am, however, by no means confident that I have attained 
what at that time seemed best to us ; nor did I hope to at- 
tain it when I began ; but I have endeavoured so to regulate 
my style, that I might appear to aim at that model. How 
far I have succeeded, as it is not my part to determine, I 
leave to be decided by you and by such as you are. 

That I have dared to make the trial, especially on this 
Epistle of Paul, I indeed see, will subject me to the condem- 
nation of many : for since men of so much learning have 
already laboured in the explanation of it, it seems not pro- 
bable that there is any room for others to produce any thing 
better. And I confess, that though I promised to myself 
some fruit from my labour, I was at first deterred by this 
thought ; for I feared, lest I should incur the imputation of 
presumption by applying my hand to a work which had 
been executed by so many illustrious workmen. There are 
extant on this Epistle many Commentaries by the ancients, 
and many by modern writers : and truly they could have 
never employed their labours in a better way ; for when any 
one understands this Epistle, he has a passage opened to him 
to the understanding of the whole Scripture. 

Of the ancients who have, by their piety, learning, holi- 
ness, and also by their age, gained so much authority, that 
we ought to despise nothing of what they have adduced, I 
will say nothing ; and with regard to those who live at this 
day, it is of no benefit to mention them all by name: Of 


those who have spent most labour in this work, I will ex- 
press my opinion. 

Philipp Melancthon, who, by his singular learning and in- 
dustry, and by that readiness in all kinds of knowledge, in 
which he excels, has introduced more light than those who 
had preceded him. But as it seems to have been his object 
to examine only those things which are mainly worthy of 
attention, he dwelt at large on these, and designedly passed 
by many things which common minds find to be difficult. 
Then follows Bullinger, who has justly attained no small 
praise ; for with learning he has connected plainness, for 
which he has been highly commended. In the last place 
comes Bucer, who, by publishing his works, has given as it 
were the finishing stroke. For in addition to his recondite 
learning and enlarged knowledge of things, and to the 
clearness of his mind, and much reading and many other 
excellencies, in which he is hardly surpassed by any at this 
day, equalled by few and excelled by still fewer — he pos- 
sesses, as you know,' this praise as his own — that no one in 
our age has been with so much labour engaged in the work 
of expounding Scripture. 1 

As then it would have been, I know, a proof of the most 
presumptuous rivalry, to wish to contend with such men, 
such a thing never entered my mind ; nor have I a desire 
to take from them the least portion of their praise. Let 
that favour and authority, which according to the confession 
of all good men they have deserved, be continued to them. 
This, however, I trust, will be allowed — that nothing has 
been done by men so absolutely perfect, that there is no 
room left for the industry of those who succeed them, either 
to polish, or to adorn, or to illustrate. Of myself I venture 
not to say any thing, except that I thought that my labour 

1 There were at least two other Reformers who had written on the 
Epistle to the Romans : but whether they were published at this time the 
writer is not able to say. There is by Luther an Introduction to it, which 
has been much praised, and has attained the name of the golden preface. 
Peter Martyr wrote a large comment on this Epistle, which was translated 
into English early in Queen Elizabeth's reign, in the year 1568. It is 
rather remarkable that there was no commenter among our English Re- 
formers, while on the Continent there were a great many commentators. 


would not be useless, and that I have undertaken it for 
no other reason than to promote the public good of the 

I farther hoped, that by adopting a different plan, I 
should not expose myself to the invidious charge of rivalry, 
of which I was afraid in the first instance. Philipp attained 
his object by illustrating the principal points : being occu- 
pied with these primary things, he passed by many things 
which deserve attention ; and it was not his purpose to pre- 
vent others to examine them. Bucer is too diffuse for men 
in business to read, and too profound to be understood by 
such as are simple and not capable of much application : 
for whatever be the subject which he handles, so many 
things are suggested to him through the incredible fecundity 
of his mind, in which he excels, that he knows not when to 
stop. Since then the first has not explained every passage, 
and the other has handled every point more at large than it 
can be read in a short time, my design has not even the 
appearance of being an act of rivalship. I, however, hesitat- 
ed for some time, whether it would be better to gather some 
gleanings after these and others, by which I might assist 
humbler minds — or to compose a regular comment, in which 
I should necessarily have to repeat many things which have 
been previously said by them all, or at least by some of 
them. But as they often vary from one another, and thus 
present a difficulty to simple readers, who hesitate as to 
what opinion they ought to receive, I thought that it would 
be no vain labour, if by pointing out the best explanation, I 
relieved them from the trouble of forming a judgment, who 
are not able to form a judgment for themselves ; and espe- 
cially as I determined to treat things so briefly, that with- 
out much loss of time, readers may peruse in my work what 
is contained in other writings. In short, I have endeavoured 
that no one may justly complain, that there are here many 
things which are superfluous. 

Of the usefulness of this work I will say nothing ; men, 
not malignant, will, however, it may be, have reasons to 
confess, that they have derived from it more benefit than I 
can with any modesty dare to promise. Now, that I some- 


times dissent from others, or somewhat differ from them, it 
is but right that I should be excused. Such veneration we 
ought indeed to entertain for the Word of God, that we 
ought not to pervert it in the least degree by varying ex- 
positions ; for its majesty is diminished, I know not how 
much, especially when not expounded with great discretion 
and with great sobriety. And if it be deemed a great wick- 
edness to contaminate any thing that is dedicated to God, 
he surely cannot be endured, who, with impure, or even 
with unprepared hands, will handle that very thing, which 
of all things is the most sacred on earth. It is there- 
fore an audacity, closely allied to a sacrilege, rashly to 
turn Scripture in any way we please, and to indulge our 
fancies as in sport ; which has been done by many in former 

But we ever find, that even those who have not been 
deficient in their zeal for piety, nor in reverence and sobriety 
in handling the mysteries of God, have by no means agreed 
among themselves on every point ; for God hath never 
favoured his servants with so great a benefit, that they were 
all endued with a full and perfect knowledge in every thing ; 
and, no doubt, for this end — that he might first keep them 
humble ; and secondly, render them disposed to cultivate 
brotherly intercourse. Since then what would otherwise be 
very desirable cannot be expected in this life, that is, uni- 
versal consent among us in the interpretation of all parts of 
Scripture, we must endeavour, that, when we depart from 
the sentiments of our predecessors, we may not be stimu- 
lated by any humour for novelty, nor impelled by any lust 
for defaming others, nor instigated by hatred, nor tickled 
by any ambition, but constrained by necessity alone, and 
by the motive of seeking to do good : and then, when 
this is done in interpreting Scripture, less liberty will be 
taken in the principles of religion, in which God would 
have the minds of his people to be especially unanimous. 
Readers will easily perceive that I had both these things in 

But as it becomes not me to decide or to pronounce any 
thing respecting myself, I willingly allow you this office ; to 


whose judgment, since almost all in most things defer, I 
ought in everything to defer, inasmuch as you are inti- 
mately known to me by familiar intercourse ; which is wont 
somewhat to diminish the esteem had for others, hut does 
not a little increase yours, as is well known among all the 
learned. Farewell. 

Strasburgh, 18th October 1539. 



With regard to the excellency of this Epistle, I know not 
whether it would be well for me to dwell long on the sub- 
ject ; for I fear, lest through my recommendations falling 
far short of what they ought to be, I should do nothing but 
obscure its merits : besides, the Epistle itself, at its very 
beginning, explains itself in a much better way than can be 
done by any words which I can use. It will then be better 
for me to pass on to the Argument, or the contents of the 
Epistle ; and it will hence appear beyond all controversy, 
that besides other excellencies, and those remarkable, this 
can with truth be said of it, and it is what can never be suf- 
ficiently appreciated — that when any one gains a knowledge 
of this Epistle, he has an entrance ojjened to him to all the 
most hidden treasures of Scripture. 

The whole Epistle is so methodical, that even its very be- 
ginning is framed according to the rules of art. As con- 
trivance appears in many parts, which shall be noticed as 
we proceed, so also especially in the way in which the main 
argument is deduced : for having begun with the proof of 
his Apostleship, he then comes to the Gospel with the view 
of recommending it ; and as this necessarily draws with it 
the subject of faith, he glides into that, being led by the 
chain of words as by the hand : and thus he enters on the 
main subject of the whole Epistle — justification by faith ; in 
treating which he is engaged to the end of the fifth chapter. 

The subject then of these chapters may he stated thus, — 
that mans only righteousness is through the mercy of God in 


Christ, which being offered by the Gospel is apprehended by 

But as men are asleep in their sins, and flatter and delude 
themselves with a false notion about righteousness, so that 
they think not that they need the righteousness of faith, 
except they be cast down from all self-confidence, — and 
further, as they are inebriated with the sweetness of lusts, 
and sunk in deep self- security, so that they are not easily 
roused to seek righteousness, except they are struck down 
by the terror of divine judgment, — the Apostle proceeds to 
do two things — to convince men of iniquity, and to shake off 
the torpor of those whom he proves guilty. 

He first condemns all mankind from the beginning of the 
world for ingratitude, because they recognised not the work- 
man in his extraordinary work : nay, when they were con- 
strained to acknowledge him, they did not duly honour his 
majesty, but in their vanity profaned and dishonoured it. 
Thus all became guilty of impiety, a wickedness more de- 
testable than any thing else. And that he might more 
clearly show that all had departed from the Lord, he recounts 
the filthy and horrible crimes of which men everywhere be- 
came guilty : and this is a manifest proof, that they had 
degenerated from God, since these sins are evidences of 
divine wrath, which appear not except in the ungodly. And 
as the Jews and some of the Gentiles, while they covered their 
inward depravity by the veil of outward holiness, seemed 
to be in no way chargeable with such crimes, and hence 
thought themselves exempt from the common sentence of 
condemnation, the Apostle directs his discourse against this 
fictitious holiness ; and as this mask before men cannot be 
taken away from saintlings, (sanctulis — petty saints,) he 
summons them to the tribunal of God, whose eyes no latent 
evils can escape. Having afterwards divided his subject, he 
places apart both the Jews and the Gentiles before the tri- 
bunal of God. He cuts off from the Gentiles the excuse 
which they pleaded from ignorance, because conscience was 
to them a law, and by this they were abundantly convicted 
as guilty. He chiefly urges on the Jews that from which 
they took their defence, even the written law ; and as they 


were proved to have transgressed it, they could not free 
themselves from the charge of iniquity, and a sentence 
against them had already been pronounced by the mouth of 
God himself. He at the same time obviates any objection 
which might have been made by them — that the covenant 
of God, which was the symbol of holiness, would have been 
violated, if they were not to be distinguished from others. 
Here he first shows, that they excelled not others by the 
right of the covenant, for they had by their unfaithfulness 
departed from it : and then, that he might not derogate from 
the perpetuity of the divine promise, he concedes to them 
some privilege as arising from the covenant ; but it pro- 
ceeded from the mercy of God, and not from their merits. 
So that with regard to their own qualifications they were on 
a level with the Gentiles. He then proves by the authority 
of Scripture, that both Jews and Gentiles were all sinners ; 
and he also slightly refers to the use of the law. 

Having wholly deprived all mankind of their confidence 
in their own virtue and of their boast of righteousness, and 
laid them prostrate by the severity of God's judgment, he 
returns to what he had before laid down as his subject — that 
we are justified by faith ; and he explains what faith is, and 
how the righteousness of Christ is by it attained by us. To 
these things he adds at the end of the third chapter a re- 
markable conclusion, with the view of beating down the 
fierceness of human pride, that it might not dare to raise up 
itself against the grace of God: and lest the Jews should 
confine so great a favour of God to their own nation, he also 
by the way claims it in behalf of the Gentiles. 

In the fourth chapter he reasons from example ; which he 
adduces as being evident, and hence not liable to be cavilled 
at ; and it is that of Abraham, who, being the father of the 
faithful, ought to be deemed a pattern and a kind of univer- 
sal example. Having then proved that he was justified by 
faith, the Apostle teaches us that we ought to maintain no 
other way of justification. And here he shows, that it fol- 
lows from the rule of contraries, that the righteousness of 
works ceases to exist, since the righteousness of faith is in- 
troduced. And he confirms this by the declaration of David, 


who, by making the blessedness of man to depend on the 
mercy of God, takes it away from works, as they are in- 
capable of making a man blessed. He then treats more fully 
what he had before shortly referred to — that the Jews had 
no reason to raise themselves above the Gentiles, as this 
felicity is equally common to them both, since Scripture de- 
clares that Abraham obtained this righteousness in an un- 
circumcised state : and here he takes the opportunity of 
adding some remarks on the use of circumcision. He after- 
wards subjoins, that the promise of salvation depends on 
God's goodness alone : for were it to depend on the law, it 
could not bring peace to consciences, which it ought to con- 
firm, nor could it attain its own fulfilment. Hence, that it 
may be sure and certain, we must, in embracing it, regard 
the truth of God alone, and not ourselves, and follow the 
example of Abraham, who, turning away from himself, had 
regard only to the power of God. At the end of the chap- 
ter, in order to make a more general application of the ad- 
duced example, he introduces several comparisons. 

In the fifth chapter, after having touched on the fruit and 
effects of the righteousness of faith, he is almost wholly 
taken up with illustrations, in order to make the point 
clearer. For, deducing an argument from one greater, he 
shows how much we, who have been redeemed and recon- 
ciled to God, ought to expect from his love ; which was so 
abundantly poured forth towards us, when we were sinners 
and lost, that he gave for us his only-begotten and beloved 
Son. He afterwards makes comparisons between sin and 
free righteousness, between Christ and Adam, between death 
and life, between the law and grace : it hence appears that 
our evils, however vast they are, are swallowed up by the 
infinite mercy of God. 

He proceeds in the sixth chapter to mention the sanctifi- 
cation which we obtain in Christ. It is indeed natural to 
our flesh, as soon as it has had some slight knowledge of 
grace, to indulge quietly in its own vices and lusts, as 
though it had beoome free from all danger : but Paul, on 
the contrary, contends here, that we cannot partake of the 
righteousness of Christ, except we also lay hold on sanctifi- 


cation. He reasons from baptism, by which we are initiated 
into a participation of Christ, (per quern in Christi partici- 
pationem initiamur;) and in it we are buried together with 
Christ, so that being dead in ourselves, we may through his 
life be raised to a newness of life. It then follows, that 
without regeneration no one can put on his righteousness. 
He hence deduces exhortations as to purity and holiness of 
life, which must necessarily appear in those who have been 
removed from the kingdom of sin to the kingdom of right- 
eousness, the sinful indulgence of the flesh, which seeks in 
Christ a greater liberty in sinning, being cast aside. He 
makes also a brief mention of the law as being abrogated ; 
and in the abrogation of this the New Testament shines 
forth eminently ; for together with the remission of sins, it 
contains the promise of the Holy Spirit. 

In the seventh chapter he enters on a full discussion on 
the use of the law, which he had pointed out before as it 
were by the finger, while he had another subject in hand : 
he assigns a reason why we are loosed from the law, and 
that is, because it serves only for condemnation. Lest, how- 
ever, he should expose the law to reproach, he clears it in 
the strongest terms from any imputation of this kind ; for 
he shows that through our fault it is that the law, which was 
given for life, turns to be. an occasion of death. He also 
explains how sin is by it increased. He then proceeds to 
describe the contest between the Spirit and the flesh, which 
the children of God find in themselves, as long as they are 
surrounded by the prison of a mortal body ; for they carry 
with them the relics of lust, by which they are continually 
prevented from yielding full obedience to the law. 

The eighth chapter contains abundance of consolations, in 
order that the consciences of the faithful, having heard of 
the disobedience which he had before proved, or rather im- 
perfect obedience, might not be terrified and dejected. But 
that the ungodly might not hence flatter themselves, he first 
testifies that this privilege belongs to none but to the re- 
generated, in whom the Spirit of God lives and prevails. He 
unfolds then two things — that all who are planted by the 
Spirit in the Lord Jesus Christ, are beyond the danger or 



the chance of condemnation, however burdened they may 
yet be with sins ; and, also, that all who remain in the flesh, 
being without the sanctification of the Spirit, are by no 
means partakers of this great benefit. He afterwards ex- 
plains how great is the certainty of our confidence, since the 
Spirit of God by his own testimony drives away all doubts 
and fears. He further shows, for the purpose of anticipat- 
ing objections, that the certainty of eternal life cannot be 
intercepted or disturbed by present evils, to which we are 
subject in this life ; but that, on the contrary, our salvation 
is promoted by such trials, and that the value of it, when 
compared with our present miseries, renders them as nothing. 
He confirms this by the example of Christ, who, being the 
first-begotten and holding the highest station in the family 
of God, is the pattern to which we must all be conformed. 
And, in the last place, as though all things were made 
secure, he concludes in a most exulting strain, and boldly 
triumphs over all the power and artifices of Satan. 

But as most were much concerned on seeing the Jews, the 
first guardians and heirs of the covenant, rejecting Christ, 
for they hence concluded, that either the covenant was 
transferred from the posterity of Abraham, who disregarded 
the fulfilling of the covenant, or that he, who made no bet- 
ter provision for the people of Israel, was not the promised 
Redeemer — he meets this objection at the beginning of the 
ninth chapter. Having then spoken of his love towards his 
own nation, that he might not appear to speak from hatred, 
and having also duly mentioned those privileges by which 
they excelled others, he gently glides to the point he had in 
view, that is, to remove the offence, which arose from their 
own blindness. And he divides the children of Abraham 
into two classes, that he might show that not all who de- 
scended from him according to the flesh, are to be counted 
for seed and become partakers of the grace of the covenant ; 
but that, on the contrary, aliens become his children, when 
they possess his faith. He brings forward Jacob and Esau 
as examples. He then refers us back here to the election of 
God, on which the whole matter necessarily depends. Be- 
sides, as election rests on the mercy of God alone, it is in 


vain to seek the cause of it in the worthiness of man. There 
is, on the other hand, rejection (rejectio), the justice of which 
is indubitable, and yet there is no higher cause for it than 
the will of God. Near the end of the chapter, he sets forth 
the calling of the Gentiles and the rejection of the Jews as 
proved by the predictions of the Prophets. 

Having again begun, in the tenth chapter, by testifying 
his love towards the Jews, he declares that a vain confidence 
in their own works was the cause of their ruin ; and lest 
they should pretend the law, he obviates their objection, 
and says, that we are even by the law itself led as it were 
by the hand to the righteousness of faith. He adds that 
this righteousness is through God's bountiful goodness offer- 
ed indiscriminately to all nations, but that it is only appre- 
hended by those, whom the Lord through special favour 
illuminates. And he states, that more from the Gentiles 
than from the Jews would obtain this benefit, as predicted 
both by Moses and by Isaiah ; the one having plainly pro- 
phesied of the calling of the Gentiles, and the other of the 
hardening of the Jews. 

The question still remained, " Is there not a difference 
between the seed of Abraham and other nations according 
to the covenant of God ?" Proceeding to answer this ques- 
tion, he first reminds us, that the work of God is not to be 
limited to what is seen by our eyes, since the elect often 
escape our observation ; for Elias was formerly mistaken, 
when he thought that religion had become wholly extinct 
among the Israelites, when there were still remaining seven 
thousand ; and, further, that we must not be perplexed by 
the number of unbelievers, who, as we see, hate the gospel. 
He at length alleges, that the covenant of God continues 
even to the posterity of Abraham according to the flesh, but 
to those only whom the Lord by a free election hath pre- 
destinated. He then turns to the Gentiles, and speaks to 
them, lest they should become insolent on account of their 
adoption, and exult over the Jews as having been rejected, 
since they excel them in nothing, except in the free favour 
of the Lord, which ought to make them the more humble ; 
and that this has' not wholly departed from the seed of 


Abraham, for the Jews were at length to be provoked to 
emulation by the faith of the Gentiles, so that God would 
gather all Israel to himself. 

The three chapters which follow are admonitory, but they 
are various in their contents. The twelfth chapter contains 
general precepts on Christian life. The thirteenth, for the 
most part, speaks of the authority of magistrates. We may 
hence undoubtedly gather that there were then some unruly 
persons, who thought Christian liberty could not exist without 
overturning the civil power. But that Paul might not ap- 
pear to impose on the Church any duties but those of love, 
he declares that this obedience is included in what love re- 
quires. He afterwards adds those precepts, which he had 
before mentioned, for the guidance of our conduct. In the 
next chapter he gives an exhortation, especially necessary in 
that age : for as there were those who through obstinate 
superstition insisted on the observance of Mosaic rites, and 
could not endure the neglect of them without being most 
grievously offended ; so there were others, who, being con- 
vinced of their abrogation, and anxious to pull down super- 
stition, designedly showed their contempt of such things. 
Both parties offended through being too intemperate ; for 
the superstitious condemned the others as being despisers of 
God's law ; and the latter in their turn unreasonably ridi- 
culed the simplicity of the former. Therefore the Apostle 
recommends to both a befitting moderation, deporting the 
one from superciliousness and insult, and the other from ex- 
cessive moroseness : and he also prescribes the best way of 
exercising Christian liberty, by keeping within the boun- 
daries of love and edification ; and he faithfully provides for 
the weak, while he forbids them to do any thing in opposi- 
tion to conscience. 

The fifteenth chapter begins with a repetition of the 
general argument, as a conclusion of the whole subject — 
that the strong should use their strength in endeavours to 
confirm the weak. And as there was a perpetual discord, 
with regard to the Mosaic ceremonies, between the Jews 
and the Gentiles, he allays all emulation between them by 
removing the cause of contention ; for he shows, that the 


salvation of both rested on the mercy of God alone ; on 
which relying, they ought to lay aside all high thoughts of 
themselves, and being thereby connected together in the 
hope of the same inheritance, they ought mutually to em- 
brace one another. And being anxious, in the last place, 
to turn aside for the purpose of commending his own apos- 
tleship, which secured no small authority to his doctrine, he 
takes occasion to defend himself, and to deprecate presump- 
tion in having assumed with so much confidence the office 
of teacher among them. He further gives them some hope 
of his coming to them, which he had mentioned at the be- 
ginning, but had hitherto in vain looked for and tried to 
effect ; and he states the reason which at that time hin- 
dered him, and that was, because the churches of Macedonia 
and Achaia had committed to him the care of conveying to 
Jerusalem those alms which they had given to relieve the 
wants of the faithful in that city. 

The last chapter is almost entirely taken up with saluta- 
tions, though scattered with some precepts worthy of all 
attention ; and concludes with a remarkable prayer. 




1 . Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, 
called to be an apostle, separated 
unto the gospel of God, 

2. (Which he had promised afore 
hy his prophets in the holy scrip- 

3. Concerning his Son Jesus Christ 
our Lord, which was made of the 
seed of David according to the flesh, 

4. And declared to be the Son of 
God with power, according to the 
spirit of holiness, by the resurrection 
from the dead : 

5. By whom we have received 
grace and apostleship, for obedience 
to the faith among all nations for 
his name ; 

6. Among whom are ye also the 
called of Jesus Christ : 

7. To all that be in Rome, be- 
loved of God, called to be saints: 
Grace to you, and peace, from God 
our Father, and the Lord Jesus 

1. Paulus, servus Iesu Christi, 
vocatus Apostolus, selectus in Evan- 
gelium Dei, 

2. Quod ante promiserat perPro- 
phetas suos in Scripturis Sanctis, 

3. De Filio suo, qui factus est e 
semine David secundum carnem, 

4. Declaratus Filius Dei in po- 
tentia, per Spiritum sanctificationis, 
ex resurrectione mortuorum, Iesu 
Christo Domino nostro : 

5. Per quern accepimus gratiam 
et Apostolatum, in obedientiam 
fidei inter omnes gentes, pro nomine 
ipsius ; 

6. Inter quas estis etiam vos, 
vocati Iesu Christi : 

7. Omnibus qui Romse estis, 
dilectis Deo, vocatis Sanctis : gratia 
vobis, et pax a Deo Patre nostro, et 
Domino Iesu Christo. 

1. Paul, &C. 1 — With regard to the word Paul, as it is a 
subject of no such moment as ought to detain us, and as 
nothing can be said which has not been mentioned by other 

1 " The inscription of the Pauline Epistles," says Turrettin, " is accord- 
ing to the manner of the ancients, both Greeks and Romans. They were 
wont to prefix their name ; and to those to whom they wrote they added 
their good wishes." We have an example in Acts xxiii. 26. — Ed. 


expounders, I should say nothing, were it not proper to 
satisfy some at small expense without being tedious to 
others ; for the subject shall be despatched in a very few 

They who think that the Apostle attained this name as 
a trophy for having brought Sergius, the proconsul, to the 
faith of Christ, are confuted by the testimony of Luke, who 
shows that he was so called before that time. (Acts xiii. 7, 
9.) Nor does it seem probable to me, that it was given him 
when he was converted to Christ ; though this idea so pleased 
Augustine, that he took occasion refinedly to philosophize 
on the subject ; for he says, that from a proud Saul he was 
made a very little (parvulum 1 ) disciple of Christ. More pro- 
bable is the opinion of Origen, who thought that he had two 
names ; for it is not unlikely to be true, that his name, 
Saul, derived from his kindred, was given him by his 
parents to indicate his religion and his descent ; and that 
his other name, Paul, was added, to show his right to Roman 
citizenship ; 2 they would not have this honour, then highly 
valued, to be otherwise than made evident ; but they did 
not so much value it as to withhold a proof of his Israelitic 
descent. But he has commonly taken the name Paul in 
his Epistles, and it may be for the following reasons : be- 
cause in the churches to which he wrote, it was more known 
and more common, more acceptable in the Roman empire, 
and less known among his own nation. It was indeed his 
duty to avoid the foolish suspicion and hatred under which 
the name of a Jew then laboured among the Romans and in 
their provinces, and to abstain from inflaming the rage of 
his own countrymen, and to take care of himself. 

A servant of Jesus Christ, &c. — He signalizes himself with 
these distinctions for the purpose of securing more authority 
to his doctrine ; and this he seeks to secure by two things — 

1 Thereby expressing the meaning of Paulus, which in Latin is little. 
" Paul," says the quaint Elnathan Parr, " signifies little, and indeed 
not unfitly, for he is reported to have been low in stature, and to have 
had a very small voice, which is thought to have been objected to him in 
2 Cor. x. 10."— Ed. 

s Most writers agree in this view, regarding Saul as his Hebrew name, 
and Paul as his Roman name. — Ed. 


first, by asserting his call to the Apostleship ;* and secondly, 
by showing that his call was not unconnected with the 
Church of Rome : for it was of great importance that he 
should be deemed an Apostle through God's call, and that 
he should be known as one destined for the Roman Church. 
He therefore says, that he was a servant of Christ, and 
called to the office of an Apostle, thereby intimating that 
he had not presumptuously intruded into that office. He 
then adds, that he was chosen, (selectum — selected, 2 ) by which 
he more fully confirms the fact, that he was not one of the 
people, but a particular Apostle of the Lord. Consistently 
with this, he had before proceeded from what was general 
to what was particular, as the Apostleship was an especial 
service ; for all who sustain the office of teaching are to be 
deemed Christ's servants, but Apostles, in point of honour, 
far exceed all others. But the choosing for the gospel, &c, 
which he afterwards mentions, expresses the end as well as 
the use of the Apostleship ; for he intended briefly to show 
for what purpose he was called to that function. By saying 
then that he was servant of Christ, he declared what he had 
in common with other teachers ; by claiming to himself the 

1 " A called Apostle — vocatus apostolus — x\n<rls a.#i<rrt>>.as " our version 
is, " called to be an Apostle." Most consider " called" here in the sense 
of chosen or elected, " a chosen Apostle." Professor Stuart observes, that 
xXnro! in the writings of Paul has always the meaning of efficient calling, 
and signifies not only the invited, but the effectually invited. He refers to 
1 Cor. i. 1, 2 ; i. 24 ; Rom. i. 6, 7 ; viii. 28 ; compared with Gal. L 15 ; 
Jude i. 1 ; Heb. hi. 1 ; Rom. xi. 29 ; Eph. iv. 1. 

He was an Apostle by a call, or as Beza renders it, " by the call of 
God — ex Dei vocatione apostolus." The meaning is the same as what he 
himself expresses it in Gal. i. 1. Turrettin renders it, " Apostolus voca- 
tione divina — an Apostle by divine vocation." 

The difference between " a called Apostle" and " called to be an Apos- 
tle," is this, that the first conveys the idea that he obeyed the call, and 
the other does not. — Ed. 

2 • A<p&>£urftiro;, separated, set apart; " segregatus," Vulgate; " separa- 
tus," Beza. " The Pharisees," says Leigh, " were termed bQupo-pivoi, 
we may English them Separatists : they separated themselves to the study 
of the law, in which respect they might be called atpu^tr^Um us ret v6fit>v, 
separated to the law. In allusion to this, saith Drusius, the Apostle is 
thought to have styled himself, Rom. i. 1, a<pa£i<rp.ivov ih luayyixiiv, separ- 
ated unto the Gospel, when he was called from being a Pharisee to be a 
preacher of the Gospel." Separated is the word adopted both by Dod- 
dridge and Macknight, as well as by our own version. — Ed. 


title of an Apostle, he put himself before others ; but as no 
authority is due to him who wilfully intrudes himself, he 
reminds us, that he was appointed by God. 

Then the meaning is, — that Paul was a servant of Christ, 
not any kind of servant, but an Apostle, and that by the 
call of God, and not by presumptuous intrusion : then fol- 
lows a clearer explanation of the Apostolic office, — it was 
ordained for the preaching of the Gospel. For I cannot 
agree with those who refer this call of which he speaks to 
the eternal election of God ; and who understand the separ- 
ation, either that from his mother's womb, which he mentions 
in Gal. i. 15, or that which Luke refers to, when Paul was 
appointed for the Gentiles : but I consider that he simply 
glories in having God as the author of his call, lest any one 
should think that he had through his own rashness taken 
this honour to himself. 1 

We must here observe, that all are not fitted for the 
ministry of the word ; for a special call is necessary : and 
even those who seem particularly fitted ought to take heed 
lest they thrust themselves in without a call. But as to the 
character of the Apostolic and of the Episcopal call, we shall 
consider it in another place. We must further observe, that 
the office of an Apostle is the preaching of the gospel. It 
hence appears what just objects of ridicule are those dumb 
dogs, who render themselves conspicuous only by their mitre 
and their crook, and boast themselves to be the successors 
of the Apostles ! 

The word, servant, imports nothing else but a minister, 
for it refers to what is official. 2 I mention this to remove 
the mistake of those who too much refine on this expression, 
and think that there is here to be understood a contrast 
between the service of Moses and that of Christ. 

1 Some combine the four separations. " Set apart in the eternal 
counsel of God, and from his mother's womb, Gal. i. 15, and by the spe- 
cial commandment of the Holy Ghost, Acts xiii. 2, confirmed by the con- 
stitution of the Church, Acts xiii. 3 ; Gal. ii. 9." — Parr. But the object 
here seems to have been that stated by Calvin : nor is it just or prudent 
to connect any other idea with the word except that which the context re- 
quires ; for to do so only tends to create confusion. — Ed. 

2 Moses, Joshua, David, Nehemiah, &c. , were, in a similar sense, called 
servants; and also our Saviour. They were officially servants. — Ed. 


3. Which he had before promised, &c. — As the suspicion 
of being new subtracts much from the authority of a doc- 
trine, he confirms the faith of the gospel by antiquity ; as 
though he said, " Christ came not on the earth unexpectedly, 
nor did he introduce a doctrine of a new kind and not heard 
of before, inasmuch as he, and his gospel too, had been pro- 
mised and expected from the beginning of the world." But 
as antiquity is often fabulous, he brings witnesses, and those 
approved, even the Prophets of God, that he might remove 
every suspicion. He in the third place adds, that their 
testimonies were duly recorded, that is, in the Holy Scrip- 

"We may learn from this passage what the gospel is : he 
teaches us, not that it was promulgated by the Prophets, 
but only promised. If then the Prophets promised the 
gospel, it follows, that it was revealed, when our Lord was 
at length manifested in the flesh. They are then mistaken, 
who confound the promises with the gospel, since the gospel 
is properly the appointed preaching of Christ as manifested, 
in whom the promises themselves are exhibited. 1 

3. Concerning his own Son, &c. — This is a remarkable 
passage, by which we are taught that the whole gospel is 
included in Christ, so that if any removes one step from 
Christ, he withdraws himself from the gospel. For since he 
is the living and express image of the Father, it is no won- 
der, that he alone is set before us as one to whom our whole 
faith is to be directed and in whom it is to centre. It is 
then a definition of the gospel, by which Paul expresses 
what is summarily comprehended in it. I have rendered 
the words which follow, Jesus Christ our Lord, in the same 
case ; which seems to me to be most agreeable with the con- 
text. We hence learn, that he who has made a due profi- 
ciency in the knowledge of Christ, has acquired every thing 
which can be learned from the gospel ; and, on the other 

1 The verb is ^a^tiyyuXaro, only here ; it comes from i^ayyixxo^ai, 
which, Schleusner says, means in the middle voice, to promise. " Which 
he had before promised," is then the proper rendering, and not, " Which 
he formerly published," as proposed by Professor Stuart. Both Doddridge 
and Macknight have retained our version, with which that- of Beza 
asrees. — Ed. 


hand, that they who seek to be wise without Christ, are not 
only foolish, but even completely insane. 

Who was made, &c. — Two things must be found in Christ, 
in order that we may obtain salvation in him, even divinity 
and humanity. His divinity possesses power, righteousness, 
life, which by his humanity are conveyed to us. Hence the 
Apostle has expressly mentioned both in the summary he 
gives of the gospel, that Christ was manifested in the flesh — 
and that in it he declared himself to be the Son of God. So 
John says ; after having declared that the Word was made 
flesh, he adds, that in that flesh there was a glory as of the 
only-begotten Son of God. (John i. 14.) That he specially 
notices the descent and lineage of Christ from his ancestor 
David, is not superfluous ; for by this he calls back our at- 
tention to the promise, that we may not doubt but that he 
is the very person who had been formerly promised. So well 
known was the promise made to David, that it appears to 
have been a common thing among the Jews to call the Mes- 
siah the Son of David. This then — that Christ did spring 
from David — was said for the purpose of confirming our faith. 

He adds, according to the flesh ; and he adds this, that 
we may understand that he had something more excellent 
than flesh, which he brought from heaven, and did not take 
from David, even that which he afterwards mentions, the 
glory of the divine nature. Paul does further by these 
words not only declare that Christ had real flesh, but he 
also clearly distinguishes his human from his divine nature ; 
and thus he refutes the impious raving of Servetus, who 
assigned flesh to Christ, composed of three uncreated ele- 

4. Declared 1 the Son of God, &c. : or, if you prefer, deter- 

1 " Declaratus," i(uttltr.$t. Some of the ancients, such as Origen, Chry- 
sostom, Cyril, and others, have given to this verb the meaning of " proved 
— $u%fivrt>s ;" " demonstrated — afotpuvtivro; ;" « exhibited — uT^uxtivros ;" 
&c. But it is said that the word has not this meaning in the New Testa- 
ment, and that it means, limited, determined, decreed, constituted. Be- 
sides here, it is found only in Luke xxii. 22 ; Acts ii. 23 ; x. 42 ; xi. 29 ; 
xvii. 26 ; Heb. iv. 7. The word, determined, or constituted, if adopted 
here, would amount to the same thing, that is, that Christ was visibly de- 
termined or constituted the Son of God through the resurrection, or by 
that event. It was that which fixed, settled, determined, and manifestly 


mined (dejinitus) ; as though he had said, that the power, 
by which he was raised from the dead, was something like a 
decree, by which he was proclaimed the Son of God, accord- 
ing to what is said in Ps. ii. 7, " I have this day begotten 
thee :" for this begetting refers to what was made known. 
Though some indeed find here three separate evidences of 
the divinity of Christ — " power," understanding thereby 
miracles — then the testimony of the Spirit — and, lastly, the 
resurrection from the dead — I yet prefer to connect them 

exhibited him as the Son of God, clothed and adorned with his own 

Professor Stuart has conjured a number of difficulties in connection 
with this verse, for which there seems to be no solid reason. The phrase, 
the Son of God, is so well known from the usage of Scripture, that there 
is no difficulty connected with it: the full phrase is the only-begotten Son. 
To say that Christ's resurrection was no evidence of his divine nature, as 
Lazarus and others had been raised from the dead, appears indeed very 
strange. Did Lazarus rise through his own power? Did Lazarus rise 
again for our justification ? Was his resurrection an attestation of any 
thing he had previously declared ? The Rev. A. Barnes very justly says, 
that the circumstances connected with Christ were those which rendered 
his resurrection a proof of his divinity. 

Professor Hodge gives what he conceives to be the import of the two 
verses in these words, " Jesus Christ was, as to his human nature, the 
Son of David ; but he was clearly demonstrated to be, as to his divine 
nature, the Son of God, by the resurrection from the dead." This view 
is taken by many, such as Pareus, Beza, Turrettin, &c. But the words, 
" according to the Spirit of Holiness" — x«™ ■ynnZpa. ayiuitrvvns, are taken dif- 
ferently by others, as meaning the Holy Spirit. As the phrase is nowhere 
else found, it may be taken in either sense. That the divine nature of 
Christ is called Spirit, is evident. See 1 Cor. xv. 45 ; 2 Cor. hi. 17 ; 
Heb. ix. 14 ; 1 Pet. hi. 18. Doddridge, Scott, and Chalmers, consider 
the Holy Spirit to be intended. The last gives this paraphrase : — " De- 
clared, or determihately marked out to be the Son of God and with power. 
The thing was demonstrated by an evidence, the exhibition of which re- 
quired a putting forth of power, which Paul in another place represents as 
a very great and strenuous exertion, ' According to the working of his 
mighty power when he raised him from the dead.' — The Spirit of Holi- 
ness, or the Holy Spirit. It was through the operation of the Holy Spirit 
that the divine nature was infused into the human at the birth of Jesus 
Christ ; and the very same agent, it is remarkable, was employed in the 
work of the resurrection. ' Put to death in the flesh,' says Peter, ' and 
quickened by the Spirit.' We have only to do with the facts of the case. 
He was demonstrated to be the Son of God by the power of the Holy 
Spirit having been put forth in raising him from the dead." As to the 
genitive case after " resurrection," see a similar instance in Acts xvii. 

The idea deduced by Calvin, that he is called here " the Spirit of 
Holiness," on account of the holiness he works in us, seems not well-founded, 
though advanced by Theodoret and Augustine. — Ed. 


together, and to reduce these three things to one, in this 
manner — that Christ was declared the Son of God by openly 
exercising a real celestial power, that is, the power of the 
Spirit, when he rose from the dead ; but that this power is 
comprehended, Avhen a conviction of it is imprinted on our 
hearts by the same Spirit. The language of the Apostle 
well agrees with this view ; for he says that he was declared 
by power, because power, peculiar to God, shone forth in 
him, and uncontestably proved him to be God ; and this was 
indeed made evident by his resurrection. Paul says the 
same thing in another place ; having stated, that by death 
the weakness of the flesh appeared, he at the same time ex- 
tols the power of the Spirit in his resurrection ; (2 Cor. xiii. 4.) 
This glory, however, is not made known to us, until the 
same Spirit imprints a conviction of it on our hearts. And 
that Paul includes, together with the wonderful energy of 
the Spirit, which Christ manifested by rising from the dead, 
the testimony which all the faithful feel in their hearts, is 
even evident from this — that he expressly calls it the Spirit 
of Holiness ; as though he had said, that the Spirit, as far 
as it sanctifies, confirms and ratifies that evidence of its 
power which it once exhibited. For the Scripture is wont 
often to ascribe such titles to the Spirit, as tend to illustrate 
our present subject. Thus He is called by our Lord the 
Spirit of Truth, on account of the effect which he mentions ; 
(John xiv. 1 7.) 

Besides, a divine power is said to have shone forth in the 
resurrection of Christ for this reason — because he rose by 
his own power, as he had often testified : " Destroy this 
temple, and in three days I will raise it up again/' (John ii. 
19 ;) " No man taketh it from me," &c. ; (John x. 18.) For 
he gained victory over death, (to which he yielded with re- 
gard to the weakness of the flesh,) not by aid sought from 
another, but by the celestial operation of his own Spirit. 

5. Through whom we have received, &c. — Having complet- 
ed his definition of the gospel, which he introduced for the 
recommendation of his office, he now returns to speak of his 
own call ; and it was a great point that this should be 
proved to the Romans. By mentioning grace and apostle- 


ship apart, he adopts a form of speech, 1 which must be un- 
derstood as meaning, gratuitous apostleship or the favour of 
the apostleship ; by which he means, that it was wholly 
through divine favour, not through his own worthiness, that 
he had been chosen for so high an office. For though it 
has hardly any thing connected with it in the estimation of 
the world, except dangers, labours, hatred, and disgrace ; 
yet before God and his saints, it possesses a dignity of no 
common or ordinary kind. It is therefore deservedly count- 
ed a favour. If you prefer to say, " I have received grace 
that I should be an Apostle," the sense would be the same. 2 
The expression, on account of his name, is rendered by 
Ambrose, " in his name," as though it meant, that the 
Apostle was appointed in the place of Christ to preach the 
gospel, according to that passage, " We are ambassadors for 
Christ," &c. (2 Cor. v. 20.) Their opinion, however, seems 
better, who take name for knowledge ; for the gospel is 
preached for this end — that we may believe on the name of 
the Son of God. (John iii. 23.) And Paul is said to have 
been a chosen vessel, to carry the name of Christ among 
the Gentiles. (Acts ix. 15.) On account then of his name, 
which means the same, as though he had said, that I might 
make known what Christ is. 3 

1 " Hypallage," a figure in grammar, by which a noun or an adjective is 
put in a form or in a case different from that in which it ought grammati- 
cally to be. — Ed. 

2 If this view be taken, the best mode would be to render «m, even, 
" favour, even the apostleship." But, as Wolfius says, " both words would 
perhaps be better rendered separately, and " grace " or favour be referred 
to the conversion of the Apostle himself, and " apostleship " to his office. 
See 1 Tim. i. 12-14 ; and Acts ix. 15 ; xiii. 2 ; xxii. 21. — Ed. 

3 He has taken this claiise before that which follows, contrary to the order 
of the text, because he viewed it as connected with the receiving of the 

" Pro nomine ipsius," — wej roZ hvopxros avrov ; « ad nominis ejus gloriam 
— to the glory of his name," Turrettin ; " for the purpose of magnifying his 
name," Chalmers. Hodge observes, " Paul was an apostle that all nations 
might be obedient, to the honour of Jesus Christ ; that is, so that his name 
may be known." Some, as Tholuck, connect the words with " obedience 
to the faith," as they render the phrase, and, in this sense, " that obedience 
might be rendered to the faith among all nations for the sake of his name." 
But it is better to connect the words with the receiving of the apostle- 
ship: it was received for two purposes — that there might be the obedi- 
ence of faith, and that the name of Christ might be magnified. — Ed. 


For the obedience of faith, &c. — That is, we have received 
a command to preach the gospel among all nations, and this 
gospel they obey by faith. By stating the design of his 
calling, he again reminds the Romans of his office, as though 
he said, " It is indeed my duty to discharge the office com- 
mitted to me, which is to preach the word ; and it is your 
duty to hear the word and willingly to obey it ; you will other- 
wise make void the vocation which the Lord has bestowed 
on me." 

We hence learn, that they perversely resist the authority 
of God and upset the whole of what he has ordained, 
who irreverently and contemptuously reject the preaching 
of the gospel ; the design of which is to constrain us to 
obey God. We must also notice here what faith is ; the 
name of obedience is given to it, and for this reason— 
because the Lord calls us by his gospel ; we respond to 
his call by faith ; as on the other hand, the chief act of dis- 
obedience to God is unbelief, I prefer rendering the sentence, 
" For the obedience of faith/' rather than, " In order that 
they may obey the faith ;" for the last is not strictly cor- 
rect, except taken figuratively, though it be found once in 
the Acts, vi. 7. Faith is properly that by which we obey 
the gospel. 1 

Among all nations, &c. It was not enough for him 
to have been appointed an Apostle, except his ministry 
had reference to some who were to be taught : hence he 
adds, that his apostleship extended to all nations. He 
afterwards calls himself more distinctly the Apostle of 
the Romans, when he says, that they were included in the 
number of the nations, to whom he had been given as a 

1 It might be rendered, " that there might be the obedience of faith," 
or, " in order to produce," or, " promote the obedience of faith." The 
obedience is faith. The command is, " believe," and the obedience must 
correspond with it. To obey the faith, as in Acts vi. 7, is a different form 
of expression : the article is prefixed there, it is the faith, meaning the 
gospel. — See 2 Thess. i. 8. Professor Stuart, and Haldane, agree in this 
view. The latter refers to Rom. x. 3, where the Israelites are charged 
for not submitting to God's righteousness; and, in verse 16, it is said, that 
they had not all obeyed the gospel, " for Esaias saith, Lord, who hath be- 
lieved our report ?" Then to believe the gospel is in an especial manner 
to obey it. — Ed. 


minister. And further, the Apostles had in common the 
command to preach the gospel to all the world ; and they 
were not, as pastors and bishops, set over certain churches. 
But Paul, in addition to the general undertaking of the 
apostolic function, was constituted, by a special appointment, 
to be a minister to proclaim the gospel among the Gentiles. 
It is no objection to this, that he was forbidden to pass 
through Macedonia and to preach the word in Mysia : for 
this was done, not that there were limits prescribed to him, 
but that he was for a time to go elsewhere ; for the harvest 
was not as yet ripe there. 

Ye are the called of Jesus Christ, &c. He assigns a reason 
more nearly connected with them — because the Lord had 
already exhibited in them an evidence by which he had 
manifested that he had called them to a participation of the 
gospel. It hence followed, that if they wished their own 
calling to remain sure, they were not to reject the ministry 
of Paul, who had been chosen by the same election of God. 
I therefore take this clause, " the called of Jesus Christ," as 
explanatory, as though the particle "even" were inserted; 
for he means, that they were by calling made partakers of 
Christ. For they who shall be heirs of eternal life, are 
chosen by the celestial Father to be children in Christ ; and 
when chosen, they are committed to his care and protection 
as their shepherd 1 

7. To all of you who are at Rome, &c. By this happy 
arrangement he sets forth what there is in us worthy of com- 
mendation ; he says, that first the Lord through his own 
kindness made us the objects of his favour and love ; and 
then that he has called us ; and thirdly, that he has called 
us to holiness : but this high honour only then exists, when 
we are not wanting to our calL 

Here a rich truth presents itself to us, to which I shall 
briefly refer, and leave it to be meditated upon by each in- 
dividual : Paul does by no means ascribe the praise of our 

1 "The called of Jesus Christ," i.e., the called who belong to Christ. 
KXnros means, not only those to whom the external call of the gospel has 
been addressed, but those who have been also internally called." — Stuart. 
The same author renders the words xXwreTs ayion, in the next verse, 
" chosen saints," or, " saints effectually called." — Ed. 



salvation to ourselves, but derives it altogether from the 
fountain of God's free and paternal love towards us ; for he 
makes this the first thing — God loves us : and what is the 
cause of his love, except his own goodness alone ? On this 
depends our calling, by which in his own time he seals his 
adoption to those whom he had before freely chosen. "We 
also learn from this passage that none rightly connect them- 
selves with the number of the faithful, except they feel 
assured that the Lord is gracious, however unworthy and 
wretched sinners they may be, and except they be stimulated 
by his goodness and aspire to holiness, for he hath not called 
us to uncleanness, but to holiness. (1 Thess. iv. 7.) As the 
Greek can be rendered in the second person, I see no reason 
for any change. 

Grace to you and peace, &c. Nothing is more desirable 
than to have God propitious to us, and this is signified by 
grace ; and then to have prosperity and success in all things 
flowing from him, and this is intimated by peace ; for how- 
ever tilings may seem to smile on us, if God be angry, even 
blessing itself is turned to a curse. The very foundation 
then of our felicity is the favour of God, by which we enjoy 
true and solid prosperity, and by which also our salvation is 
promoted even when we are in adversities. 1 And then as 
he prays to God for peace, we must understand, that what- 
ever good comes to us, it is the fruit of divine benevolence. 
Nor must we omit to notice, that he prays at the same time 
to the Lord Jesus Christ for these blessings. Worthily in- 
deed is this honour rendered to him, who is not only the 
administrator and dispenser of his Father's bounty to us, 
but also works all things in connection with him. It was, 
however, the special object of the Apostle to show, that 
through him all God's blessings come to us. 2 

1 " The ancient Greeks and Romans," says Turrettin, " wished to those 
to whom they wrote, in the inscription of their epistles, health, joy, happi- 
ness; but Paul prays for far higher blessings, even the favour of God, the 
fountain of all good things, and peace, in which the Hebrews included all 
blessings. " — Ed. 

2 « From God our Father, — if God, then able ; if our Father, then 
willing to enrich us with his gifts : and from our Lord Jesus Christ, — 
from our Lord, who has purchased them for us ; from Jesus, for without 


There are those who prefer to regard the word peace as 
signifying quietness of conscience ; and that this meaning 
belongs to it sometimes, I do not deny : but since it is cer- 
tain that the Apostle wished to give us here a summary of 
God's blessings, the former meaning, which is adduced by 
Bucer, is much the most suitable. Anxiously wishing then 
to the godly what makes up real happiness, he betakes him- 
self, as he did before, to the very fountain itself, even the 
favour of God, which not only alone brings to us eternal fe- 
licity, but is also the source of all blessings in this life. 

8. First, I thank my God through 8. Primum quidern gratias ago 
Jesus Christ for you all, that your Deo meo per Iesum Christum super 
faith is spoken of throughout the vobis omnibus, quia fides vestra 
whole world. prsedicatur in universo mundo. 

9. For God is my witness, whom 9. Testis enim mihi Deus, quern 
I serve with my spirit in the gospel colo in spiritu meo in Evangelio 
of his Son, that without ceasing I Filii ipsius, ut continenter memo- 
make mention of you always in my riam vestri faciam ; 

prayers ; 

10. Making request (if by any 10. Semper in orationibus meis, 1 
means now at length I might have rogans, si quomodo prosperum iter 
a prosperous journey by the will of aliquando mihi, obtingat per volun- 
God) to come unto you. tatem Dei, veniendi ad vos. 

11. For I long to see you, that I 11. Desidero enim videre, vos, ut 
may impart unto you some spiritual aliquod impertiar vobis donum spiri- 
gift, to the end ye may be estab- tuale ad vos confirmandos ; 

hshed ; 

12. That is, that I may be com- 12. Hoc est, ad cohortationem 
forted together with you, by the mutuo percipiendam in vobis per 
mutual faith both of you and me. mutuam fidem, vestram atque meam. 

8. I first 2 indeed, &c. Here the beginning commences, 
altogether adapted to the occasion, as he seasonably pre- 
pares them for receiving instruction by reasons connected 
with himself as well as with them. What he states respect- 
ing them is, the celebrity of their faith ; for he intimates 
that they being honoured with the public approbation of the 
churches, could not reject an Apostle of the Lord, without 
disappointing the good opinion entertained of them by all ; 

these we cannot be saved ; from Christ, for he is anointed with grace and 
peace. John. i. 16." — Parr. 

1 Margin, " in all my prayers." 

2 " It does not mean here the first in point of importance, but first in 
the order of time." — Stuart. The same author thinks that pi* here has 
its corresponding 2s in verse 13, oil 6ixu U v^x;, &c. — Ed. 


and such a thing would have been extremely uncourteous 
and in a manner bordering on perfidy. As then this tes- 
timony justly induced the Apostle, by affording him an as- 
surance of their obedience, to undertake, according to his 
office, to teach and instruct the Romans ; so it held them 
bound not to despise his authority. With regard to himself, 
he disposes them to a teachable spirit by testifying his love 
towards them : and there is nothing more effectual in gain- 
ing credit to an adviser, than the impression that he is cor- 
dially anxious to consult our wellbeing. 

The first thing worthy of remark is, that he so commends 
their faith, 1 that he implies that it had been received from 
God. We are here taught that faith is God's gift : for 
thanksgiving is an acknowledgment of a benefit. He who 
gives thanks to God for faith, confesses that it comes from 
him. And since we find that the Apostle ever begins his 
congratulations with thanksgiving, let us know that we are 
hereby reminded, that all our blessings are God's free gifts. 
It is also needful to become accustomed to such forms of 
speaking, that we may be led more fully to rouse ourselves 
in the duty of acknowledging God as the giver of all our 
blessings, and to stir up others to join us in the same 
acknowledgment. If it be right to do this in little things, 
how much more with regard to faith ; which is neither 
a small nor an indiscriminate (promiscua) gift of God. 
We have here besides an example, that thanks ought to be 
given through Christ, according to the Apostle's command 
in Heb. xiii. 15 ; inasmuch as in his name we seek and 
obtain mercy from the Father. — I observe in the last place, 
that he calls him his God. This is the faithful's special 
privilege, and on them alone God bestows this honour. 
There is indeed implied in this a mutual relationship, which 
is expressed in this promise, " I will be to them a God ; they 
shall be to me a people." (Jer. xxx. 22.) I prefer at the 
same time to confine this to the character which Paul sus- 

1 u Faith is put here for the whole religion, and means the same as your 
piety. Faith is one of the principal things of religion, one of its first re- 
quirements, and hence it signifies religion itself." — Barnes. It is indeed 
the principal thing, the very basis of religion. Heb. xi. 6. — Ed. 


tained, as an attestation of his obedience to the end in the 
work of preaching the gospel. So Hezekiah called God the 
God of Isaiah, when he desired him to give him the testi- 
mony of a true and faithful Prophet. (Is. xxxvii. 4.) So 
also he is called in an especial manner the God of Daniel. 
(Dan. vi. 20.) 

Through the whole world. The eulogy of faithful men was 
to Paul equal to that of the whole world, with regard to the 
faith of the Romans ; for the unbelieving, who deemed it 
detestable, could not have given an impartial or a correct 
testimony respecting it. We then understood that it was 
by the mouths of the faithful that the faith of the Romans 
was proclaimed through the whole world ; and that they were 
alone able to judge rightly of it, and to pronounce a correct 
opinion. That this small and despised handful of men 
were unknown as to their character to the ungodly, even at 
Rome, was a circumstance he regarded as nothing ; for Paul 
made no account of their judgment. 

9. For God is my witness, &c. He proves his love by its 
effects ; for had he not greatly loved them, he would not 
have so anxiously commended them to the Lord, and espe- 
cially he would not have so ardently desired to promote 
their welfare by his own labours. His anxiety then and his 
ardent desire were certain evidences of his love ; for had 
they not sprung from it, they would never have existed. 
And as he knew it to be necessary for establishing confidence 
in his preaching, that the Romans should be fully persuaded 
of his sincerity, he added an oath — a needful remedy, 
whenever a declaration, which ought to be received as true 
and indubitable, vacillates through uncertainty. For since 
an oath is nothing else but an appeal to God as to the 
truth of what we declare, most foolish is it to deny that the 
Apostle used here an oath. He did not notwithstanding 
transgress the prohibition of Christ. 

It hence appears that it was not Christ's design (as the 
superstitious Anabaptists dream) to abolish oaths altogether, 
but on the contrary to call attention to the due observance 
of the law ; and the law, allowing an oath, only condemns 
perjury and needless swearing. If then we would use an 


oath aright, let us imitate the seriousness and the reverent 
manner exhibited by the Apostles ; and that you may un- 
derstand what it is, know that God is so called as a witness, 
that he is also appealed to as an avenger, in case we deceive ; 
which Paul expresses elsewhere in these words, " God is a 
witness to my soul." (2 Cor. i. 23.) 1 

Whom I serve with my spirit, &c. It is usual with pro- 
fane men, who trifle with God, to pretend his name, no less 
boldly than presumptuously ; but the Apostle here speaks 
of his own piety, in order to gain credit ; and those, in whom 
the fear of God and reverence for his name prevail, will 
dread to swear falsely. At the same time, he sets his own 
spirit in opposition to the outward mask of religion ; for as 
many falsely pretend to be the worshippers of God, and out- 
wardly appear to be so, he testifies that he, from the heart, 
served God. 2 It may be also that he alluded to the ancient 
ceremonies, in which alone the Jews thought the worship of 
God consisted. He then intimates, that though he retained 
not observance of these, he was yet a sincere worshipper of 
God, according to what he says in Phil. iii. 3, " We are the 
true circumcision, who in spirit serve God, and glory not in 
the flesh." He then glories that he served God with sincere 
devotion of heart, which is true religion and approved wor- 

But it was expedient, as I have said, in order that his 
oath might attain more credit, that Paul should declare his 
piety towards God ; for perjury is a sport to the ungodly, 
while the pious dread it more than a thousand deaths ; inas- 
much as it cannot be, but that where there is a real fear of 
God, there must be also a reverence for his name. It is then 
the same thing, as though Paul had said, that he knew how 
much sacredness and sincerity belonged to an oath, and that 

1 The passage in Matt. v. 33-37, lias been often wholly misunderstood. 
That oaths in common conversation are alone prohibited, is quite evi- 
dent from what the passage itself contains. In solemn oaths there was 
no swearing by " heaven," or by " God's throne," or by " the earth," or 
by " Jerusalem," or by " the head." Such forms were only used in con- 
versation, as similar ones are still used : and these kinds of swearing are 
alone condemned by our Saviour. — Ed. 

2 " Sincere et vere — sincerely and truly," Wulfius ; " not merely exter- 
nally, but cordially," Hodge. 


he did not rashly appeal to God as a witness, as the profane 
are wont to do. And thus, by his own example, he teaches 
us, that whenever we swear, we ought to give such evidence 
of piety, that the name of God, which we use in our declara- 
tions, may retain its sacredness. And further, he gives a 
proof, even by his own ministry, that he worshipped not God 
feignedly ; for it was the fullest evidence, that he was a man 
devoted to God's glory, when he denied himself, and hesi- 
tated not to undergo all the hardships of reproach, poverty, 
and hatred, and even the peril of death, in advancing the 
kingdom of God. 1 

Some take this clause, as though Paul intended to recom- 
mend that worship which he said he rendered to God, on 
this account, — because it corresponded with what the gospel 
prescribes. It is indeed certain that spiritual worship is 
enjoined on us in the gospel ; but the former interpretation 
is far the most suitable, — that he devoted his service to God 
in preaching the gospel. He, however, makes at the same 
time a difference between himself and hypocrites, who have 
something else in view rather than to serve God ; for ambi- 
tion, or some such thing, influences most men ; and it is far 
from being the case, that all engage cordially and faithfully 
in this office. The meaning is, that Paul performed sin- 
cerely the office of teaching ; for what he says of his own 
devotion he applies to this subject. 

But we hence gather a profitable doctrine ; for it ought to 
add no little encouragement to the ministers of the gospel, 
when they hear that, in preaching the gospel, they render 
an acceptable and a valuable service to God. What, indeed, 
is there to prevent them from regarding it an excellent ser- 
vice, when they know that their labour is pleasing to God, 
and is aj>proved by him ? Moreover, he calls it the gospel of 
the Son of God ; for Christ is in it made known, who has 
been appointed by the Father for this end, — that he, being- 
glorified, should also glorify the Father, 

1 'eh tu ihayyix'tu tcZ viov ahvoZ, " by the preaching of the gospel, &c," 
Stuart. " In predicando evangelio— in preacliing the gospel," Bcza. _ " I 
serve God, not in teaching legal rites, but a much more celestial doctrine," 


That continually, &c. He still further sets forth the 
ardour of his love by his very constancy in praying for them. 
It was, indeed, a strong evidence, when he poured forth no 
prayers to the Lord without making mention of them. That 
the meaning may be clearer, I render iravrore, " always " as 
though it was said, " In all my prayers," or, " whenever I 
address God in prayer, I join a mention of you/' 1 Now he 
speaks not of every kind of calling on God, but of those 
prayers to which the saints, being at liberty, and laying 
aside all cares, apply their whole attention to the work ; for 
he might have often expressed suddenly this or that wish, 
when the Romans did not come into his mind ; but when- 
ever he had previously intended, and, as it were, prepared 
himself to offer up prayers to God, among others he remem- 
bered them. He then speaks peculiarly of those prayers, 
for which the saints deliberately prepare themselves ; as we 
find to have been the case with our Lord himself, who, for 
this purpose, sought retirement. He at the same time inti- 
mates how frequently, or rather, how unceasingly he was 
engaged in such prayers, since he says that he prayed con- 

10. Requesting, if by any means, &c. As it is not pro- 
bable that we from the heart study his benefit, whom we are 
not ready to assist by our labours, he now adds, after having 
said that he was anxious for their welfare, that he showed 
by another proof his love to them, as before God, even by 
requesting that he might be able to advance their interest. 
That you may, therefore, perceive the full meaning, read the 
words as though the word also were inserted, requesting 
also, if by any means, &c. By saying, A prosperous journey 

1 The order of the words, as arranged by Calvin, is better than that of 
our version ; he connects " always in my prayers," or, " in all my prayers," 
with " requesting." The simpler rendering would be as follows : — 

9. My witness indeed is God, whom I serve with my spirit in the 

10. gospel of his Son, that I unceasingly make mention of you, always 

requesting in my prayers, that by some means now at length I 

may, through the will of God, have a free course to come to you. 

" In the gospel," may either mean " according to the gospel," or, " in 

preaching the gospel." Hodge prefers the first. The particle " clearly 

means " that " in this connection. That it is used in this sense in the 

New Testament there can be no doubt ; see Acts xxvi. 8, 23 ; Heb. vii. 15. 


by the will of God, he shows, not only that he looked to the 
Lord's favour for success in his journey, but that he deemed 
his journey prosperous, if it was approved by the Lord. 
According to this model ought all our wishes to be formed. 

11. For I greatly desire to see you. He might, indeed, 
while absent, have confirmed their faith by his doctrine ; 
but as advice is better taken from one present, he had a de- 
sire to be with them. But he explains what his object was, 
and shows that he wished to undertake the toil of a journey, 
not for his own, but for their advantage. — Spiritual gifts 1 he 
calls those which he possessed, being either those of doctrine, 
or of exhortation, or of prophecy, which he knew had come 
to him through God's favour. He has here strikingly point- 
ed out the use of gifts by the word, imparting : for differ- 
ent gifts are distributed to each individual, that all may 
in kindness mutually assist one another, and transfer to 
others what each one possesses. See chap. xii. 3 ; and 1 
Cor. xii. 11. 

To confirm you, &c. He modifies what he had said of 
imparting, lest he should seem to regard them such as were 
yet to be instructed in the first elements of religion, as 
though they were not hitherto rightly taught in Christ. He 
then says, that he wished so to lend his aid to them, that 
they who had for the most part made a proficiency, might 
be further assisted : for a confirmation is what we all want, 
until Christ be fully formed in us. (Eph. iv. 18.) 

12. Being not satisfied with this modest statement, he 
qualifies it, and shows, that he did not so occupy the place 
of a teacher, but that he wished to learn also from them ; 
as though he said, " I desire so to confirm you according to 
the measure of grace conferred on me, that your example 

1 The words, <n x^S" r f ia vnttftxrmov, some spiritual gift, or benefit, seem 
to be of a general import. Some, such as Chalmers and Haldane, have 
supposed that a miraculous power is intended, which the Apostles alone 
conveyed, such as the power of speaking with tongues : but most Commen- 
tators agree in the view here given. The phrase is not found in any other 
place: x^S ,<r ^ a ' in the plural number, is used to designate miraculous 
powers, 1 Cor. xii. 9 ; and ™ wsuftarixa mean the same, 1 Cor. xiv. 1. But 
here, no doubt, the expression includes any gift or benefit, whether mira- 
culous or ordinary, which the Apostle might have been made the means of 
conveying. — Ed. 


may also add courage (alacritatem — alacrity) to my faith, 
and that we may thus mutually benefit one another." 

See to what degree of modesty his pious heart submitted 
itself, so that he disdained not to seek confirmation from 
unexperienced beginners : nor did he speak dissemblingly, 
for there is no one so void of gifts in the Church of Christ, 
who is not able to contribute something to our benefit : but 
we are hindered by our envy and by our pride from gather- 
ing such fruit from one another. Such is our high-minded- 
ness, such is the inebriety produced by vain reputation, that 
despising and disregarding others, every one thinks that he 
possesses what is abundantly sufficient for himself. I prefer 
to read with Bucer, exhortation {exhortationem — encourage- 
ment) rather than consolatim ; for it agrees better with the 
former part. 1 

13. Now I would not have you 13. Nolo vero vos ignorare, fra- 
ignorant, brethren, that oftentimes tres, quod ssepe propositi venire ad 
I purposed to come unto you, (but vos, et impeditus sum hactenus, ut 

1 The verb is ffv/^Ta^a»Xn^vai, which Grotius connects with tvnvroOu in 
the preceding verse ; and adds, " He softens what he had said, by showing, 
that he would not only bring some joy to them, but they also to him." 
" Ut percipiam consolationem — that I may receive consolation," Piscator ; 
— " Ut una recreemur — that we may be together refreshed," Castelio ; 
"Adcommunem exhortationem percipiendam — in order to receive com- 
mon exhortation," Beza; " Ut gaudium et voluptatem ex vobis percipiam 
— that I may receive joy and pleasure from you ;" vel, " Ut mutuo solatio 
invicem nos erigamus atque firmemus — that by mutual comfort we may 
console and strengthen one another," Schleusner. 

The verb with the prefix, </»*, is only found here ; but the verb ira^a- 
x.a.x'iu> frequently occurs, and its common meaning is, to beseech, to exhort, 
to encourage, and by these means to comfort. 

With regard to this passage, Professor Stuart says, " I have rendered 
the Avord, comfort, only because I cannot find any English word which will 
convey the full sense of the original." 

" The word rendered to comfort" says Professor Hodge, " means to in- 
vite, to exhort, to instruct, to console, &c. Which of these senses is to be 
preferred here, it is not easy to decide. Most probably the Apostle in- 
tended to use the word in a wide sense, as expressing the idea, that he might 
be excited, encouraged, and comforted by his intercourse with his Chris- 
tian brethren." — The two verses may be thus rendered: — 

11. For I desire much to see you, that I may impart to you some spi- 

12. ritual benefit, so that you may be strengthened: this also is what 1 
desire, to be encouraged together with you, through the faith which 
is in both, even in you and in me. 

Grotius observes, " *v kwfaon improprie dixit pro in utrisque, in me et 
vobis. Dixit sic et Demosthenes, ™ -xfis «.xxrixou ," — Ed, 


was let hitherto,) that I might have fructum aliquem haberem in vobis, 

some fruit among you also, even as sicut et in reliquis gentibus. 
among other Gentiles. 

14. I am debtor both to the Greeks 14. Et Grsecis et Barbaris et 
and to the Barbarians, both to the sapientibus et stultis debitor sum. 
wise and to the unwise. 

15. So, as much as in me is, I am 15. Itaque quantum in me est, 
ready to preach the gospel to you paratus sum vobis quoque qui Ro- 
that are at Rome also. mse estis Evangelizare. 

13. J would not that you should be ignorant. What he 
has hitherto testified — that he continually requested of the 
Lord that he might visit them, might have appeared a vain 
thing, and could not have obtained credit, had he neglected 
to seize the occasion when offered : he therefore says, that 
the effort had not been wanting, but the opportunity ; for 
he had been prevented from executing a purpose often 

"We hence learn that the Lord frequently upsets the pur- 
poses of his saints, in order to humble them, and by such 
humiliation to teach them to regard his Providence, that 
they may rely on it ; though the saints, who design nothing 
without the Lord's will, cannot be said, strictly speaking, to 
be driven away from their purposes. It is indeed the pre- 
sumption of impiety to pass by God, and without him to 
determine on things to come, as though they were in our 
own power ; and this is what James sharply reprehends in 
chap. iv. 13. 

But he says that he was hindered : you must take this in 
no other sense, but that the Lord employed him in more 
urgent concerns, which he could not have neglected without 
loss to the Church. Thus the hinderances of the godly and 
of the unbelieving differ : the latter perceive only that they 
are hindered, when they are restrained by the strong hand 
of the Lord, so as not to be able to move ; but the former 
are satisfied with an hinderance that arises from some ap- 
proved reason ; nor do they allow themselves to attempt any 
thing beyond their duty, or contrary to edification. 

That I might obtain some fruit, &c. He no doubt speaks 
of that fruit, for the gathering of which the Lord sent his 
Apostles, " I have chosen you, that ye may go and bring 
forth fruit, and that your fruit may remain." (John xv. 16.) 


Though he gathered it not for himself, but for the Lord, he 
yet calls it his own ; for the godly have nothing more as 
their own than the work of promoting the glory of the 
Lord, with which is connected all their happiness. And he 
records what had happened to him with respect to other 
nations, that the Romans might entertain hope, that his 
coming to them would not be unprofitable, which so many 
nations had found to have been attended with so much 

14. / am a debtor both to the Greeks and to the Barbarians, 
&c. Those whom he means by the Greeks and the Bar- 
barians, he afterwards explains by adding, both to the wise 
and to the foolish ; which words Erasmus has not rendered 
amiss by " learned and unlearned," (eruditos et rudes,) but 
I prefer to retain the very words of Paul. He then takes 
an argument from his own office, and intimates that it 
ought not to be ascribed to his arrogance, that he thought 
himself in a manner capable of teaching the Romans, how- 
ever much they excelled in learning and wisdom and in the 
knowledge of things, inasmuch as it had pleased the Lord 
to make him a debtor even to the wise. 1 

Two things are to be here considered — that the gospel is 
by a heavenly mandate destined and offered to the wise, in 
order that the Lord may subject to himself all the wisdom 
of this world, and make all variety of talents, and every 
kind of science, and the loftiness of all arts, to give way to 
the simplicity of his doctrine ; and what is more, they are 
to be reduced to the same rank with the unlearned, and to 
be made so meek, as to be able to bear those to be their 
fellow-disciples under their master, Christ, whom they would 
not have deigned before to take as their scholars ; and then, 
that the unlearned are by no means to be driven away from 

1 Chalmers paraphrases the text thus — " I am bound, or I am under 
obligation, laid upon me by the duties of my office, to preach both to 
Greeks and Barbarians, both to the wise and the unwise." 

In modern phraseology, the words may be rendered, " Both to the civi- 
lized and to the uncivilized, both to the learned and to the unlearned, am 
I a debtor." The two last terms are not exactly parallel to the two first, 
as many unlearned were among the Greeks, or the civilized, as well as 
among the Barbarians. — Ed. 


this school, nor are they to flee away from it through ground- 
less fear ; for if Paul was indebted to them, being a faithful 
debtor, he had doubtless discharged what he owed ; and 
thus they will find here what they will be capable of enjoy- 
ing. All teachers have also a rule here which they are to 
follow, and that is, modestly and kindly to accommodate 
themselves to the capacities of the ignorant and unlearned. 
Hence it will be, that they will be able, with more evenness- 
of mind, to bear with many absurdities and almost innumer- 
able things that may disgust them, by which they might 
otherwise be overcome. They are, however, to remember, 
that they are not so indebted to the foolish, as that they are 
to cherish their folly by immoderate indulgence. 

15. I am therefore ready, 1 &c. He concludes what he 
had before said of his desire — that as he knew it to be his 
duty to spread the gospel among them, in order to gather 
fruit for the Lord, he was anxious to fulfil God's calling, as 
far as he was allowed to do so by the Lord. 

16. For I am not ashamed of the 16. Non enim pudet me Evan- 
gospel of Christ : for it is the power gelii Christi, quandoquidem potentia 
of God unto salvation to every one est Dei, in salutem omni credenti, 
that believeth ; to the Jew first, and Iudseo primum, deinde Grseco. 
also to the Greek. 

17. For therein is the righteous- 17. Nam justitia Dei in eo reve- 
ness of God revealed from faith to latur ex fide in fidem, sicut scrip- 
faith : as it is written, The just shall turn est, Justus ex fide sua vivet. 
live by faith. 

16. / am not indeed ashamed, &c. This is an anticipa- 
tion of an objection ; for he declares beforehand, that he 
cared not for the taunts of the ungodly ; and he thus pro- 
vides a way for himself, by which he proceeds to pronounce 
an eulogy on the value of the gospel, that it might not ap- 
pear contemptible to the Romans. He indeed intimates 
that it was contemptible in the eyes of the world ; and he 

1 to wt ifil 7rgi0vfu>\; literally, " As to me there is readiness;" or, accord- 
ing to Stuart, " There is a readiness so far as it respects me." But, " I 
am ready," or, " I am prepared," conveys the meaning sufficiently, with- 
out the other words, " As much as in me is." By saying that he was pre- 
pared, he intimates that the event depended on another, even on God. — 


does this by saying, that he was not ashamed of it. And 
thus he prepares them for bearing the reproach of the cross 
of Christ, lest they should esteem the gospel of less value by 
finding it exposed to the scoffs and reproaches of the un- 
godly ; and, on the other hand, he shows how valuable it 
was to the faithful. If, in the first place, the power of God 
ought to be extolled by us, that power shines forth in the 
gospel ; if, again, the goodness of God deserves to be sought 
and loved by us, the gospel is a display of his goodness. It 
ought then to be reverenced and honoured, since veneration 
is due to God's power ; and as it avails to our salvation, it 
ought to be loved by us. 

But observe how much Paul ascribes to the ministry of 
the word, when he testifies that God thereby puts forth his 
power to save ; for he speaks not here of any secret revela- 
tion, but of vocal preaching. It hence follows, that those as 
it were wilfully despise the power of God, and drive away 
from them his delivering hand, who withdraw themselves 
from the hearing of the word. 

At the same time, as he works not effectually in all, but 
only where the Spirit, the inward Teacher, illuminates the 
heart, he subjoins, To every one who believeth. The gospel 
is indeed offered to all for their salvation, but the power of 
it appears not everywhere : and that it is the savour of 
death to the ungodly, does not proceed from what it is, but 
from their own wickedness. By setting forth but one sal- 
vation he cuts off every other trust. When men withdraw 
themselves from this one salvation, they find in the gospel 
a sure proof of their own ruin. Since then the gospel in- 
vites all to partake of salvation without any difference, it is 
rightly called the doctrine of salvation : for Christ is there 
offered, whose peculiar office is to save that which was lost ; 
and those who refuse to be saved by him, shall find him a 
Judge. But everywhere in Scripture the word salvation is 
simply set in opposition to the word destruction : and hence 
we must observe, when it is mentioned, what the subject of 
the discourse is. Since then the gospel delivers from ruin 
and the curse of endless death, its salvation is eternal life. 1 

1 On the jyower of God, Parens observes, that the abstract, after the 


First to the Jew and then to the Greek. Under the word 
Greek, lie includes all the Gentiles, as it is evident from the 
comparison that is made ; for the two clauses comprehend 
all mankind. And it is probable that he chose especially 
this nation to designate other nations, because, in the first 
place, it was admitted, next to the Jews, into a participation 
of the gospel covenant ; and, secondly, because the Greeks, 
on account of their vicinity, and the celebrity of their lan- 
guage, were more known to the Jews. It is then a mode of 
speaking, a part being taken for the whole, by which he 
connects the Gentiles universally with the Jews, as partici- 
pators of the gospel : nor does he thrust the Jews from their 
own eminence and dignity, since they were the first partak- 
ers of God's promise and calling. He then reserves for them 
their prerogative ; but he immediately joins the Gentiles, 
though in the second place, as being partakers with them. 

17. For 1 the righteousness of God, &c. This is an explana- 
tion and a confirmation of the preceding clause — that the 
gospel is the power of God unto salvation. For if we seek 
salvation, that is, life with God, righteousness must be first 
sought, by which being reconciled to him, we may, through 
him being propitious to us, obtain that life which consists 
only in his favour; for, in order to be loved by God, we 
must first become righteous, since he regards unrighteous- 
ness with hatred. He therefore intimates, that we cannot 
obtain salvation otherwise than from the gospel, since no- 
where else does God reveal to us his righteousness, which 

Hebrew manner, is put for the concrete. Power means the instrument 
of God's power ; that is, the gospel is an instrument rendered efficacious 
by divine power to convey salvation to believers : or, as Stuart says, " It 
is powerful through the energy which he imparts, and so it is called his 
power." Chalmers gives this paraphrase, " It is that, which however 
judged and despised as a weak instrument by the men of this world — it is 
that, to which he, by his own power, gives effect for the recovery of that 
life which all men had forfeited and lost by sin." 

" The gospel is a divine act, which continues to operate through all 
ages of the world, and that not in the first place outwardly, but inwardly, 
in the depths of the soul, and for eternal purposes." — Dr. Olshausen. 

1 " The causative, y«£, indicates a connexion with the preceding, that 
the gospel is the power of God : the reason is, because by the gospel is 
revealed the righteousness of God, that is, made known by it is a Avay of 
righteousness and of obtaining life before God, which neither the law, nor 
philosophy, nor any other doctrine, was able to show." — Parens. 


alone delivers us from perdition. Now this righteousness, 
which is the groundwork of our salvation, is revealed in the 
gospel : hence the gospel is said to be the power of God 
unto salvation. Thus he reasons from the cause to the 

Notice further, how extraordinary and valuable a treasure 
does God bestow on us through the gospel, even the com- 
munication of his own righteousness. I take the righteous- 
ness of God to mean, that which is approved before his 
tribunal ; x as that, on the contrary, is usually called the 
righteousness of men, which is by men counted and supposed 
to be righteousness, though it be only vapour. Paul, how- 
ever, I doubt not, alludes to the many prophecies in which 
the Spirit makes known everywhere the righteousness of 

1 " The righteousness of God," hieaurvMi h»u, has been the occasion of 
much toil to critics, but without reason : the very context is sufficient to 
show its meaning, it being what the gospel reveals, and what the gospel 
reveals is abundantly known from other passages. Whether we say, it is 
the righteousness which is approved of God, as Calvin says, or provided 
by God, or contrived by God, or imputed by God, the meaning does not 
materially differ, and indeed all these things, as it is evident from Scrip- 
ture, are true respecting it. 

There is more difficulty connected with the following words, i» viirricos 
tis iriffTn. The view which Calvin gives was adopted by some of the 
Fathers, such as Theophylact and Clemens Alexandrinus ; and it is that 
of Melancthon, Beza, Scaliger, Locke, and many others. From Poole we 
find that Chrysostom gave this exposition, " From the obscure and in- 
choate faith of the Old Testament to the clear and full faith of the New ;" 
and that Ambrose's exposition was the following, " From the faith or 
fidelity of God who promises to the faith of him who believes." But in 
all these views there is not that which comports with the context, nor is 
the construction very intelligible — " revealed from faith," what can it 
mean ? To render the passage intelligibly, l» vrlffrius must be connected 
with lixuioo-vvt) fa™, as suggested by Hammond, and followed by Doddridge 
and Macknight. Then it would be, " The righteousness of God by faith, 
or, which is by faith :" this is revealed in the gospel " to faith," that is, 
in order that it may be believed ; which is often the force of tis before a 
noun ; as, tis «i» avopiuv — in order to do wickedness ; or, us «7«^«» — in 
order to practise holiness, Rom vi. 19. Chalmers, Stuart, Barnes, and 
Haldane take this view. The verse may be thus rendered, — 

For the righteousness of God by faith is in it revealed in order to 
be believed, as it is written, " The just shall by faith live." 
The same truth is conveyed in chap. iii. 22 ; and similar phraseology is 
found in Phil. iii. 9. 

Barnes seems fully to express the import of the passage in these words, 
" God's plan of justifying men is revealed in the gospel, which plan is by 
faith, and the benefits of which plan shall be extended to all that have 
faith or that believe." — Ed. 


God in the future kingdom of Christ. Some explain it as 
the righteousness which is freely given us by God : and I 
indeed confess that the words will bear this sense ; for God 
justifies us by the gospel, and thus saves us : yet the former 
view seems to me more suitable, though it is not what I 
make much of. Of greater moment is what some think, 
that this righteousness does not only consist in the free re- 
mission of sins, but also, in part, includes the grace of re- 
generation. But I consider, that we are restored to life 
because God freely reconciles us to himself, as we shall here- 
after show in its proper place. 

But instead of the expression he used before, " to every 
one who believeth," he says now, from, faith ; for righteous- 
ness is offered by the gospel, and is received by faith. And 
he adds, to faith : for as our faith makes progress, and as it 
advances in knowledge, so the righteousness of God increases 
in us at the same time, and the possession of it is in a 
manner confirmed. When at first we taste the gospel, we 
indeed see God's smiling countenance turned towards us, 
but at a distance : the more the knowledge of true religion 
grows in us, by coming as it were nearer, we behold God's 
favour more clearly and more familiarly. What some think, 
that there is here an implied comparison between the Old 
and New Testament, is more refined than well-founded ; for 
Paul does not here compare the Fathers who lived under the 
law with us, but points out the daily progress that is made 
by every one of the faithful. 

As it is written, &c. By the authority of the Prophet 
Habakkuk he proves the righteousness of faith ; for he, pre- 
dicting the overthrow of the proud, adds this — that the life 
of the righteous consists in faith. Now we live not before 
God, except through righteousness : it then follows, that 
our righteousness is obtained by faith ; and the verb being 
future, designates the real perpetuity of that life of which 
he speaks ; as though he had said, — that it would not be 
momentary, but continue for ever. For even the ungodly 
swell with the false notion of having life ; but when they 
say, " Peace and safety/' a sudden destruction comes upon 
them, (1 Thess. v. 3.) It is therefore a shadow, which en- 



dures only for a moment. Faith alone is that which secures 
the perpetuity of life ; and whence is this, except that it 
leads us to God, and makes our life to depend on him ? For 
Paul would not have aptly quoted this testimony had not 
the meaning of the Prophet been, that we then only stand, 
when by faith we recumb on God : and he has not certainly 
ascribed life to the faith of the godly, but in as far as they, 
having renounced the arrogance of the world, resign them- 
selves to the protection of God alone. 1 

He does not indeed professedly handle this subject ; and 
hence he makes no mention of gratuitous justification : but 
it is sufficiently evident from the nature of faith, that this 
testimony is rightly applied to the present subject. Besides, 
we necessarily gather from his reasoning, that there is a 
mutual connection between faith and the gospel : for as the 
just is said to live by faith, he concludes that this life is 
received by the gospel. 

We have now the principal point or the main hinge of the 
first part of this Epistle, — that we are justified by faith 
through the mercy of God alone. We have not this, indeed, 
as yet distinctly expressed by Paul ; but from his own words 
it will hereafter be made very clear — that the righteousness, 
which is grounded on faith, depends entirely on the mercy 
of God. 

18. For the wrath of God is re- 18. Revelatur enim ira Dei e 
vealed from heaven against all un- coelo, super omnem impietatem et 
godliness and unrighteousness of injustitiam hominum, veritatem Dei 
men, who hold the truth in unright- injuste continentium : 

eousness ; 

19. Because that which may he 19. Quia quod cognoscitur de 
known of God is manifest in them : Deo manifestum est in ipsis : Deus 
for God hath shewed it unto them. enim illis manifestavit. 

1 Here is an instance in which Paul quotes the Old Testament, neither 
exactly from the Hebrew nor the Septuagint. The Hebrew is, " The 
just, — by his faith shall he live," iTTP inJlDKD pH^» : and the Septuagint 
turns " his " into "my," i It Vikuios lx *ivrtus pov %»<rtrai — " The just shall 
by my faith live ;" — " by my faith," that is, according to the tenor of the 
passage, "by faith in me." The passage is quoted by him twice besides, 
in Gal. hi. 11, and in Heb. x. 38, but exactly in the same words, without 
the pronoun " his" or "my." His object in this, as in some similar in- 
stances, was to state the general truth contained in the passage, and not 
to give a strictly verbal quotation. — Ed, 


20. For the invisible things of him 20. Si quidem invisibilia ipsius, 
from the creation of the world are ex creatione mundi operibus intel- 
clearly seen, being understood by the lecta, conspiciuntur, seterna quoque 
things that are made, even his eter- ejus potentia, et divinitas ; ut sint 
nal power and Godhead ; so that inexcusabiles. 

they are without excuse : 

21. Because that, when they knew 21. Quoniam quum Deum cog- 
God, they glorified him not as God, novissent, non tanquam Deo gloriam 
neither were thankful ; but became dederunt, aut grati fuerunt ; exina- 
vain in their imaginations, and their niti sunt in cogitationibus suis, et 
foolish heart was darkened. obtenebratumeststultumcoreorum. 

22. Professing themselves to be 22. Quum se putarent sapientes, 
wise, they became fools, stulti facti stmt, 

23. And changed the glory of the 23. Et mutaverunt gloriam incor- 
uncorruptible God into an image ruptibilis Dei similitudine imaginis 
made like to corruptible man, and corruptibilis hominis, et volucrum, 
to birds, and four-footed beasts, and et quadrupedum, et serpentum. 
creeping things. 

18. For 1 revealed, &c. He reasons now by stating things 
of a contrary nature, and proves that there is no righteous- 
ness except what is conferred, or comes through the gospel ; 
for he shows that without this all men are condemned : by 
it alone there is salvation to be found. And he brings, as 
the first proof of condemnation, the fact, — that though the 
structure of the world, and the most beautiful arrangement 
of the elements, ought to have induced man to glorify God, 
yet no one discharged his proper duty : it hence appears 
that all were guilty of sacrilege, and of wicked and abomin- 
able ingratitude. 

1 The connection here is not deemed very clear. Stuart thinks that 
this verse is connected, as the former one, with the 16th, and that it in- 
cludes a reason why the Apostle was not ashamed of the gospel: and 
Macknight seems to have been of the same opinion, for he renders yap, 
besides. In this case the revelation of wrath from heaven is that which is 
made by the gospel. This certainly gives a meaning to the words, " from 
heaven," which is hardly done by any other view. That the gospel reveals 
" wrath," as well as righteousness to be obtained by faith, is what is unde- 
niable. Salvation to the believer, and condemnation to the unbeliever, is 
its sum and substance. The objection made by Haldane is of no force, — 
that the Apostle subsequently shows the sins of mankind as committed 
against the light of nature, and not against the gospel ; for he seems to 
have brought forward the evidence from the light of nature, in order to 
confirm the evidence from the light of revelation. The expression is, 
"Revealed is the wrath of God," and not has been. See Acts xvii. 30, 31. 

This is the view taken by Turrettin; and Parens says, " There is no- 
thing to prevent us from referring the revelation of wrath, as well as the 
revelation of righteousness, to the gospel." — Ed. 


To some it seems that this is a main subject, and that 
Paul forms his discourse for the purpose of enforcing repent- 
ance ; but I think that the discussion of the subject begins 
here, and that the principal point is stated in a former pro- 
position | for Paul's object was to teach us where salvation 
is to be found. He has already declared that we cannot 
obtain it except through the gospel : but as the flesh will 
not willingly humble itself so far as to assign the praise of 
salvation to the grace of God alone, Paul shows that the 
whole world is deserving of eternal death. It hence follows, 
that life is to be recovered in some other way, since we are 
all lost in ourselves. But the words, being well considered, 
will help us much to understand the meaning of the passage. 

Some make a difference between impiety and unrighteous- 
ness, and think, that by the former word is meant the pro- 
fanation of God's worship, and by the latter, injustice towards 
men ; but as the Apostle immediately refers this unright- 
eousness to the neglect of true religion, we shall explain 
both as referring to the same thing. 1 And then, all the 
impiety of men is to be taken, by a figure in language, as 
meaning " the impiety of all men," or, the impiety of which 
all men are guilty. But by these two words one thing is 
designated, and that is, ingratitude towards God ; for we 
thereby offend in two ways : it is said to be aaeSeia, impiety, 
as it is a dishonouring of God ; it is aoWa, unrighteousness, 
because man, by transferring to himself what belongs to 
God, unjustly deprives God of his glory. The word wrath, 
according to the usage of Scripture, speaking after the man- 
ner of men, means the vengeance of God ; for God, in pun- 
ishing, has, according to our notion, the appearance of one 
in wrath. It imports, therefore, no such emotion in God, 
but only has a reference to the perception and feeling of the 
sinner who is punished. Then he says that it is revealed 
from heaven ; though the expression, from heaven, is taken 
by some in the sense of an adjective, as though he had said, 
" the wrath of the celestial God ;" yet I think it more em- 

1 It is true that the immediate subject is the neglect of religion ; but 
then injustice towards men is afterwards introduced, and most critics take 
it in this sense. — Ed. 


phatical, when taken as having this import, " Wheresoever 
a man may look around him, he will find no salvation ; for 
the wrath of God is poured out on the whole world, to the 
full extent of heaven/' 

The truth of God means, the true knowledge of God ; and 
to hold in that, is to suppress or to obscure it : hence they 
are charged as guilty of robbery. — What we render unjustly, 
is given literally by Paul, in unrighteousness, which means 
the same thing in Hebrew : but we have regard to perspi- 
cuity. 1 

19. Inasmuch as what may be known of God, &c. He thus 
designates what it behoves us to know of God ; and he 
means all that appertains to the setting forth of the glory 
of the Lord, or, which is the same thing, whatever ought to 
move and excite us to glorify God. And by this expression 
he intimates, that God in his greatness can by no means be 
fully comprehended by us, and that there are certain limits 
within which men ought to confine themselves, inasmuch as 
God accommodates to our small capacities what he testifies 
of himself. Insane then are all they who seek to know of 
themselves what God is : for the Spirit, the teacher of perfect 
wisdom, does not in vain invite our attention to what may 
be known, to jvqxttov ; and by what means this is known, 
he immediately explains. And he said, in them rather than 
to them, for the sake of greater emphasis : for though the 
Apostle adopts everywhere Hebrew phrases, and 'Z, beth, is 
often redundant in that language, yet he seems here to have 

1 This clause, rZv rhv aXnhiav Iv aSixta »ar£^«»r&iv, is differently rendered, 
" Veritatem injuste detinentes — unjustly detaining the truth," Turrettin ; 
" Who stiffle the truth in unrighteousness," Chalmers ; " Who hinder the 
truth hy unrighteousness," Stuart ; " Who wickedly oppose the truth," 
Hodge ; " Who confine the truth hy unrighteousness," Macknight. 

" They rushed headlong," says Parens, M into impiety against God and 
into injustice against one another, not through ignorance, but knowingly, 
not through weakness, but wilfully and maliciously : and this the Apostle 
expresses by a striking metaphor, taken from tyrants, who, against right 
and justice, by open violence, oppress the innocent, bind them in chains, 
and detain them in prison." 

The sense given by Schleusner and some others, " Qui cum veri Dei 
cognitione pravitatem vitse conjungunt — who connect with a knowledge 
of the true God a wicked life," seems not to comport with the context. 

" The truth " means that respecting the being and power of God after- 
wards specified. — Ed. 


intended to indicate a manifestation, by which they might 
be so closely pressed, that they could not evade ; for every one 
of us undoubtedly finds it to be engraven on his own heart. 1 
By saying, that God has made it manifest, he means, that 
man was created to be a spectator of this formed world, and 
that eyes were given him, that he might, by looking on so 
beautiful a picture, be led up to the Author himself. 

20. Since his invisible things, 2 &c. God is in himself in- 
visible ; but as his majesty shines forth in his works and in 
his creatures everywhere, men ought in these to acknow- 
ledge him, for they clearly set forth their Maker : and for 
this reason the Apostle in his Epistle to the Hebrews says, 
that this world is a mirror, or the representation of invisible 
things. He does not mention all the particulars which may 
be thought to belong to God ; but he states, that we can 
arrive at the knowledge of his eternal power and divinity ; 3 
for he who is the framer of all things, must necessarily be 
without beginning and from himself. When we arrive at 
this point, the divinity becomes known to us, which cannot 
exist except accompanied with all the attributes of a God, 
since they are all included under that idea. 

1 Some take h auroTs, to mean among them, i.e., as Stuart says, " in 
the midst of them, or before their eyes," that is, in the visible world ; 
though many refer it with Calvin, to the moral sense, and that the expres- 
sion is the same with " written in their hearts," in ch. ii. 15. — Ed. 

2 There is a passage quoted by Wolfius from Aristotle in his book De ' 
Mundo, which remarkably coincides with a part of this verse — " fatr* 

HirtTy (flCtrii ytvofiivos uhtupwros asr' abrwii ruv 'ipyuv ho^unrak o his — God, Unseen 

by any mortal nature, is to be seen by the works themselves." — Ed. 

3 Divinitas, hiortis, here only, and not horns as in Col. i. 9. Eisner 
and others make a difference between these two words, and say, that the 
former means the divinity or majesty of God, and the latter his nature or 
being. There seems to be the idea of goodness conveyed in the word, 
hioT*s : for in the following verse there are two things laid to the charge of 
the Gentiles which bear a reference to the two things said here— they did 
not glorify him as God, and they were not thankful. He made himself 
known by power as God, and by the beneficent exercise of that power, he 
had laid a claim to the gratitude of his creatures. See Acts xiv. 15 ; and 
xvii. 25, 27. 

Venema, in his note on this passage, shows, that goodness was regarded 
by many of the heathens as the primary attribute of Deity. Among 
the Greeks, goodness — ro ayaSov, -\vas the expression by which the Supreme 
Being was distinguished. And it appears evident from the context that 
the Apostle included this idea especially in the word hio-rns. — Ed. 


So that they are inexcusable. It hence clearly appears 
what the consequence is of having this evidence — that men 
cannot allege any thing before God's tribunal for the pur- 
pose of showing that they are not justly condemned. Yet 
let this difference be remembered, that the manifestation of 
God, by which he makes his glory known in his creation, is, 
with regard to the light itself, sufficiently clear ; but that 
on account of our blindness, it is not found to be sufficient. 
We are not however so blind, that we can plead our ignorance 
as an excuse for our perverseness. We conceive that there 
is a Deity ; and then we conclude, that whoever he may be, 
he ought to be worshipped : but our reason here fails, be- 
cause it cannot ascertain who or what sort of being God is. 
Hence the Apostle in Heb. xi. 3, ascribes to faith the light 
by which man can gain real knowledge from the work of 
creation, and not without reason ; for we are prevented by 
our blindness, so that we reach not to the end in view; we 
yet see so far, that we cannot pretend any excuse. Both 
these things are strikingly set forth by Paul in Actsxiv. 17, 
when he says, that the Lord in past times left the nations 
in their ignorance, and yet that he left them not without 
witness (dfidprvpov,) since he gave them rain and fertility 
from heaven. But this knowledge of God, which avails only 
to take away excuse, differs greatly from that which brings 
salvation, which Christ mentions in John xvii. 3, and in 
which we are to glory, as Jeremiah teaches us, ch. ix. 24. 

21. For when they knew God, &c. He plainly testifies 
here, that God has presented to the minds of all the means 
of knowing him, having so manifested himself by his works, 
that they must necessarily see what of themselves they seek 
not to know — that there is some God ; for the world does 
not by chance exist, nor could it have proceeded from itself. 
But we must ever bear in mind the degree of knowledge in 
which they continued ; and this appears from what follows. 

They glorified him not as God. No idea can be formed of 
God without including his eternity, power, wisdom, good- 
ness, truth, righteousness, and mercy. His eternity appears 
evident, because he is the maker of all things — his power, 
because he holds all things in his hand and continues their 


existence — his wisdom, because lie has arranged things in 
such an exquisite order — his goodness, for there is no other 
cause than himself, why he created all things, and no other 
reason, why he should be induced to preserve them — his 
justice, because in his government he punishes the guilty 
and defends the innocent — his mercy, because he bears with 
so much forbearance the perversity of men — and his truth, 
because he is unchangeable. He then who has a right 
notion of God ought to give him the praise due to his eter- 
nity, wisdom, goodness, and justice. Since men have not 
recognised these attributes in God, but have dreamt of him 
as though he were an empty phantom, they are justly said 
to have impiously robbed him of his own glory. Nor is it 
without reason that he adds, that they were not thankful / 
for there is no one who is not indebted to him for number- 
less benefits : yea, even on this account alone, because he 
has been pleased to reveal himself to us, he has abundantly 
made us indebted to him. But they became vain, 2 &c. ; that 
is, having forsaken the truth of God, they turned to the 

1 The conjunctive, v, is for ov n, says Piscator : but it is a Hebraism, for 
1 is sometimes used in Hebrew without the negative, which belongs to a 
former clause. — Ed. 

a The original words are, \paru.ttut!riffu.v it rci; SixXtyitr/iois alruv, — " Vani 
facti sunt in ratiocinationibus suis — they became vain in their reasonings," 
Parens, Beza, Turrettin, and Doddridge ; " They became foolish by their 
own reasonings," Macknight. 

" Whatever the right reason within," says Pareus, " or the frame of 
the world Avithout, might have suggested respecting God, they indulged in 
pleasing speculations, specious reasonings, and in subtle and frivolous con- 
clusions ; some denied the existence of a God, as Epicurus and Democri- 
tus — others doubted, as Protagoras and Diagoras — others affirmed the 
existence of many gods ; and these, as the Platonics, maintained that they 
are not corporeal, while the Greeks and Romans held them to be so, who 
worshipped dead men, impious, cruel, impure, and wicked. There were 
also the Egyptians, who worshipped as gods, brute animals, oxen, geese, 
birds, crocodiles, yea, what grew in their gardens, garlics and onions. A 
very few, such as Plato and Aristotle, acknowledged one supreme Being ; 
but even these deprived him of his providence. These, and the like, were 
the monstrous opinions which the Gentiles deduced from their reasonings. 
They became vain, foolish, senseless." 

" And darkened became their foolish heart," — h a<ruviros auTav xufila ; 
"cor eorum intelligentia carens — their heart void of understanding ;" 
" their unintelligent heart," Doddridge. Perhaps " undiscerning heart" 
would be the most suitable. See Math. xv. 16. Heart, after the manner 
of the Hebrews, is to be taken here for the whole soul, especially the 
mind. — Ed. 


vanity of their own reason, all the acuteness of which is 
fading and passes away like vapour. And thus their foolish 
mind, being involved in darkness, could understand nothing 
aright, but was carried away headlong, in various ways, into 
errors and delusions. Their unrighteousness was this — they 
quickly choked by their own depravity the seed of right 
knowledge, before it grew up to ripeness. 

22. While they were thinking, &c. It is commonly inferred 
from this passage, that Paul alludes here to those philoso- 
phers, who assumed to themselves in a peculiar manner the 
reputation of wisdom ; and it is thought that the design of 
his discourse is to show, that when the superiority of the 
great is brought down to nothing, the common people would 
have no reason to suppose that they had any thing worthy 
of being commended : but they seem to me to have been 
guided by too slender a reason ; for it was not peculiar to 
the philosophers to suppose themselves wise in the know- 
ledge of God, but it was equally common to all nations, and 
to all ranks of men. There were indeed none who sought 
not to form some ideas of the majesty of God, and to make 
him such a God as they could conceive him to be according 
to their own reason. This presumption I hold is not learned 
in the schools, but is innate, and comes with us, so to speak, 
from the womb. It is indeed evident, that it is an evil 
which has prevailed in all ages — that men have allowed 
themselves every liberty in coining superstitions. The arro- 
gance then which is condemned here is this — that men 
sought to be of themselves wise, and to draw God down to a 
level with their own low condition, when they ought humbly 
to have given him his own glory. For Paul holds this prin- 
ciple, that none, except through their own fault, are unac- 
quainted with the worship due to God ; as though he said, 
" As they have proudly exalted themselves, they have be- 
come infatuated through the righteous judgment of God." 
There is an obvious reason, which contravenes the interpre- 
tation which I reject ; for the error of forming an image of 
God did not originate with the philosophers ; but they, by 
their consent, approved of it as received from others. 1 

1 Calvin is peculiar in his exposition of this verse. Most critics agree 


23. And changed, &c. Having feigned such a God as 
they could comprehend according to their carnal reason, 
they were very far from acknowledging the true God : but 
devised a fictitious and a new god, or rather a phantom. And 
what he says is, that they changed the glory of God ; for as 
though one substituted a strange child, so they departed 
from the true God. Nor are they to be excused for this 
pretence, that they believe that God dwells in heaven, and 
that they count not the wood to be God, but his image ; for 
it is a high indignity to God, to form so gross an idea of his 
majesty as to dare to make an image of him. But from the 
wickedness of such a presumption none were exempt, neither 
priests, nor statesmen, nor philosojjhers, of whom the most 
sound-minded, even Plato himself, sought to find out some 
likeness of God. 

The madness then here noticed, is, that all attempted to 
make for themselves an image of God ; which was a certain 
proof that their notions of God were gross and absurd. 
And, first, they befouled the majesty of God by forming him 
in the likeness of a corruptible man : for I prefer this ren- 
dering to that of mortal man, which is adopted by Erasmus ; 
for Paul sets not the immortality of God in opposition to the 
mortality of man, but that glory, which is subject to no de- 
fects, to the most wretched condition of man. And then, 
being not satisfied with so great a crime, they descended 
even to beasts and to those of the most filthy kind ; by 

in thinking that those referred to here were those reputed learned among 
all nations, as Beza says, " Such as the Druids of the Gauls, the sooth- 
sayers of the Tuscans, the philosophers of the Greeks, the priests of the 
Egyptians, the magi of the Persians, the gynmosophists of the Indians, 
and the Rabbins of the Jews." He considers that the Apostle refers espe- 
cially to such as these, though he speaks of all men as appearing to them- 
selves very wise in their insane devices as to the worship of God. The 
wiser they thought themselves, the more foolish they became. See Jer. 
viii. 8, 9 ; 1 Cor. i. 19-22. 

" This is the greatest unhappiness of man, not only not to feel his 
malady, but to extract matter of pride from what ought to be his shame. 
What they deemed to be their wisdom was truly their folly." — Haldane. 

It is a just remark of Hodge, " That the higher the advancement of the 
nations in refinement and philosophy, the greater, as a general rule, the 
degradation and folly of their systems of religion." As a proof he men- 
tions the ancient Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans, as compared with the 
aborigines of America. — Ed. 

CHAP. I. 24. 



which their stupidity appeared still more evident. You may- 
see an account of these abominations in Lactantius, in Euse- 
bius, and in Augustine in his book on the city of God. 

24. Wherefore God also gave 
them up to uncleanness, through 
the lusts of their own hearts, to dis- 
honour their own bodies between 
themselves : 

25. Who changed the truth of 
God into a lie, and worshipped and 
served the creature more than the 
Creator, who is blessed for ever. 

26. For this cause God gave them 
up unto vile affections : for even their 
women did change the natural use 
into that which is against nature : 

27. And likewise also the men, 
leaving the natural use of the woman, 
burned in their lust one toward an- 
other : men with men working that 
which is unseemly, and receiving in 
themselves that recompence of their 
error which was meet. 

28. And even as they did not like 
to retain God in their knowledge, 
God gave them over to a reprobate 
mind, to do those things which are 
not convenient ; 

29. Being filled with all unright- 
eousness, fornication, wickedness, 
covetousness, maliciousness ; full of 
envy, murder, debate, deceit, malig- 
nity; whisperers, 

30. Backbiters, haters of God, 
despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors 
of evil things, disobedient to parents, 

31. Without understanding, co- 
venant-breakers, without natural af- 
fection, implacable, unmerciful : 

32. Who, knowing the judgment 
of God, that they which commit such 
things are worthy of death, not only 
do the same, but have pleasure in 
them that do them. 

24. Propterea tradidit illos Deus 
in cupiditates cordium suorum in 
immunditiem, ut ignominia affice- 
rent corpora sua in seipsis : 

25. Qui transmutarunt veritatem 
ejus in mendacium et coluerunt ac 
venerati sunt creaturam supra Crea- 
torem, qui est benedictus in secula : 

26. Propterea, inquam, tradidit 
illos Deus in passiones ignominiosas : 
ac enim feminse ipsorum transmu- 
tarunt naturalem usum in eum qui 
est prseter naturam : 

27. Similiter et viri quoque, 
amisso naturali usu feminse, exar- 
serunt mutua libidine, alii in alios ; 
masculi in masculis fceditatem per- 
petrantes et quam decebat erro- 
ris sui mercedem in seipsis reci- 

28. Et quemadmodum non pro- 
baverunt Deum habere in notitia, 
tradidit illos Deus in reprobam men- 
tem, ad facienda quae non dece- 

29. Ut essent pleni omni injus- 
titia, nequitia, Hbidine, avaritia, 
malitia ; referti invidia, homicidio, 
contentione, dolo, perversitate ; su- 

30. Obtrectatores, osores Dei, ma- 
lefici, contumeliosi, fastuosi, reperto- 
res malorum, parentibus immorigeri, 

31. Intelligentise expertes, insocia- 
biles, affectu humanitatis carentes, 
foedifragi, sine misericordise sensu ; 

32. Qui, quum Dei judicium cog- 
noverint, quod qui talia agunt, digni 
sunt morte, non tantum ea faciunt, 
sed assentiuntur facientibus. 

24. God therefore gave them up, &c. As impiety is a hid- 
den evil, lest they should still find an evasion, he shows, by 
a more palpable demonstration, that they cannot escape, but 


must be held fast by a just condemnation, since such fruits 
have followed this impiety as cannot be viewed otherwise 
than manifest evidences of the Lord's wrath. As the Lord's 
wrath is always just, it follows, that what has exposed them 
to condemnation, must have preceded it. By these evi- 
dences then he now proves the apostacy and defection of men: 
for the Lord indeed does so punish those, who alienate them- 
selves from his goodness, that he casts them headlong into 
various courses which lead to perdition and ruin. And by 
comparing the vices, of which they were guilty, with the 
impiety, of which he had before accused them, he shows that 
they suffered punishment through the just judgment of God : 
for since nothing is dearer to us than our own honour, it is 
extreme blindness, when we fear not to bring disgrace on 
ourselves ; and it is the most suitable punishment for a re- 
proach done to the Divine Majesty. This is the very thing 
which he treats of to the end of the chapter ; but he handles 
it in various ways, for the subject required ample illustra- 

What then, in short, he proves to us is this, — that the in- 
gratitude of men to God is incapable of being excused ; for 
it is manifest, by unequivocal evidences, that the wrath of 
God rages against them : they would have never rolled them- 
selves in lusts so filthy, after the manner of beasts, had not 
the majesty of God been provoked and incensed against 
them. Since, then, the worst abominations abounded every- 
where, he concludes that there existed among them evi- 
dences of divine vengeance. Now, as this never rages with- 
out reason, or unjustly, but ever keeps within the limits of 
what is right, he intimates that it hence appears that per- 
dition, not less certain than just, impended over all. 

As to the manner in which God gives up or delivers men 
to wickedness, it is by no means necessary in this place to 
discuss a question so intricate, (longam — tedious.) It is in- 
deed certain, that he not only permits men to fall into sin, 
by allowing them to do so, and by conniving at them ; but 
that he also, by his equitable judgment, so arranges things, 
that they are led and carried into such madness by their 
own lusts, as well as by the devil. He therefore adopts the 


word, give up, according to the constant usage of Scripture ; 
which word they forcibly wrest, who think that we are led 
into sin only by the permission of God : for as Satan is the 
minister of God's wrath, and as it were the executioner, so 
he is armed against us, not through the connivance, but by 
the command of his judge. God, however, is not on this ac- 
count cruel, nor are we innocent, inasmuch as Paul plainly 
shows, that we are not delivered up into his power, except 
when we deserve such a punishment. Only we must make 
this exception, that the cause of sin is not from God, the 
roots of which ever abide in the sinner himself; for this 
must be true, " Thine is perdition, Israel ; in me only is 
thy help." (Hos. xiii. 9.) 1 

By connecting the desires or lusts of man's heart with un- 
cleanness, he indirectly intimates what sort of progeny our 
heart generates, when left to itself. The expression, among 
themselves, is not without its force ; for it significantly ex- 

1 On this subject Augustine, as quoted by Poole, uses a stronger lan- 
guage than which we find here : — Tradidit non solum per patientiam et per- 
missionem, sed per potentiam et quasi actionem ; non faciendo voluntates 
malas, sed eis jam malis utendo ut voluerit ; mxdta et intra ipsos et extra 
ipsos operando, a quibus illi occasionemcapiunt graviiis peccandi ; largiendo 
illis admonitiones, fiagella, beneficia, #c, quibus quoque eos scivit Deus ad 
suam perniciem abusuros — " He delivered them up, not only by suffer- 
ance and permission, but by power, and as it were by an efficient opera- 
tion ; not by making evil their wills, but by using them, being already evil, 
as he pleased ; by working many things both within and without them, 
from which they take occasion to sin more grievously ; by giving them 
warnings, scourges, benefits, &c, which God knew they would abuse to 
their own destruction." — This is an awful view of God's proceedings to- 
wards those who wilfully resist the truth, but no doubt a true one. Let 
all who have the opportunity of knowing the truth tremble at the thought 
of making light of it. 

The preposition h before desires or lusts, is used after the Hebrew man- 
ner, in the sense of to or into ; for 2 beih, means in, and to, and also by or 
through ; and such is the import of S» as frequently used by the Apostle. 
It is so used in the preceding verse, — « opoiupan — into the likeness, &c. 
Then the verse would be, as Calvin in sense renders it, — 

God also on this account delivered them up to the lusts of their own 
hearts to work uncleanness, that they might dishonour their bodies 
among themselves. 

The import of us axa^iriav, in order to uncleanness, is no doubt, to work 
uncleanness ; the Apostle frequently uses this kind of expression. Stuart 
labours here unnecessarily to show, that God gave them up, being in their 
lusts, &c, taking the clause as a description of those who were given up ; 
but the plainest meaning is that which Calvin gives. — Ed. 


presses how deep and indelible are the marks of infamy im- 
printed on our bodies. 

25. Who changed, &c. He repeats what he had said be- 
fore, though in different words, in order to fix it deeper in 
our minds. When the truth of God is turned to a lie, his 
glory is obliterated. It is then but just, that they should be 
besprinkled with every kind of infamy, who strive to take 
away from God his honour, and also to reproach his name. — 
And worshipped, &c. That I might include two words in 
one, I have given this rendering. He points out especially 
the sin of idolatry ; for religious honour cannot be given to 
a creature, without taking it away, in a disgraceful and 
sacrilegious manner, from God : and vain is the excuse that 
images are worshipped on God's account, since God acknow- 
ledges no such worship, nor regards it as acceptable ; and the 
true God is not then worshipped at all, but a fictitious God, 
whom the flesh has devised for itself. 1 — What is added, Who 
is blessed for ever, I explain as having been said for the pur- 
pose of exposing idolaters to greater reproach, and in this 
way, " He is one whom they ought alone to have honoured 
and worshipped, and from whom it was not right to take 
away any thing, no, not even the least." 

26. God therefore gave them up, &c. After having intro- 
duced as it were an intervening clause, he returns to what 
he had before stated respecting the judgment of God : and 

1 The words, " the truth of God," and " falsehood," or, a lie, are He- 
braistic in their meaning, signifying " the true God," and " an idol." The 
word, which means a lie, is often in Hebrew applied to any thing made to 
be worshipped. See Is. xliv. 17, compared with 20 ; Jer. xiii. 25. Stuart 
renders the sentence, " Who exchanged the true God for a false one." 
Wolfius objects to this view, and says, " I prefer to take dx^hiav roZ faou, 
for the truth made known by God to the Gentiles, of which see ver. 18, and 
the following verses : they changed this into a lie, i.e., into those insane 
and absurd notions, into which they were led by their hakayurfioTs — reason- 
ings, ver. 21." The expression — f«ja rit Kr'iaavra, has been rendered by 
Erasmus, " above the Creator ;" by Luther, " rather than the Creator ;" 
by Beza, " to the neglect of the Creator — praeterito conditore ;" and by 
Orotius, " in the place of the Creator." The two last are more consonant 
with the general tenor of the context ; for the persons here spoken of, ac- 
cording to the description given of them, did not worship God at all; 
•pra^a is evidently used in the sense of exclusion and opposition, *««« ™v vipov 
— contrarv to the law, Acts xviii. 13 ; *a.£«, Qv/nv — contrary to nature, 
ver. 26. "See Gal. i. 8.— Ed. 


he brings, as the first example, the dreadful crime of un- 
natural lust ; and it hence appears that they not only aban- 
doned themselves to beastly lusts, but became degraded 
beyond the beasts, since they reversed the whole order of 
nature. He then enumerates a long catalogue of vices which 
had existed in all ages, and then prevailed everywhere with- 
out any restraint. 

It is not to the purpose to say, that every one was not 
laden with so great a mass of vices ; for in arraigning the 
common baseness of men, it is proof enough if all to a man 
are constrained to acknowledge some faults. So then we 
must consider, that Paul here records those abominations 
which had been common in all ages, and were at that time 
especially prevalent everywhere ; for it is marvellous how 
common then was that filthiness which even brute beasts 
abhor; and some of these vices were even popular. And 
he recites a catalogue of vices, in some of which the whole 
race of man were involved ; for though all were not murder- 
ers, or thieves, or adulterers, yet there were none who were 
not found polluted by some vice or another. He calls those 
disgraceful passions, which are shameful even in the estima- 
tion of men, and redound to the dishonouring of God. 

27. Such a reward for their error as was meet. They 
indeed deserved to be blinded, so as to forget themselves, 
and not to see any thing befitting them, who, through their 
own malignity, closed their eyes against the light offered 
them by God, that they might not behold his glory : in 
short, they who were not ashamed to extinguish, as much 
as they could, the glory of God, which alone gives us light, 
deserved to become blind at noonday. 

28. And as they chose not, &c. There is an evident com- 
parison to be observed in these words, by which is strikingly 
set forth the just relation between sin and punishment. As 
they chose not to continue in the knowledge of God, which 
alone guides our minds to true wisdom, the Lord gave them 
a perverted mind, which can choose nothing that is right. 1 

1 There is a correspondence between the words obx ilmci^atrav — they did 
not approve, or think worthy, and uYoxipov — unapproved, or worthless, 
which is connected with voZv, mind. The verb means to try or prove a 


And by saying, that they chose not, (non probasse — approved 
not,) it is the same as though he had said, that they pursued 
not after the knowledge of God with the attention they 
ought to have done, but, on the contrary, turned away their 
thoughts designedly from God. He then intimates, that 
they, making a depraved choice, preferred their own vanities 
to the true God ; and thus the error, by which they were 
deceived, was voluntary. 

To do those things which were not meet. As he had hither- 
to referred only to one instance of abomination, which pre- 
vailed indeed among many, but was not common to all, he 
begins here to enumerate vices from which none could be 
found free : for though every vice, as it has been said, did 
not appear in each individual, yet all were guilty of some 
vices, so that every one might separately be accused of mani- 
fest depravity. As he calls them in the first instance not 
meet, understand him as saying, that they were inconsistent 
with every decision of reason, and alien to the duties of men : 
for he mentions it as an evidence of a perverted mind, that 
men addicted themselves, without any reflection, to those 
vices, which common sense ought to have led them to re- 

But it is labour in vain so to connect these vices, as to 
make them dependent one on another, since this was not 

thing, as metal by fire, then to distinguish between what is genuine or 
otherwise, and also to approve of what is good and valuable. To approve, 
or think fit or worthy, seems to be the meaning here. Derived from this 
verb is uSoxiftos, which is applied to unapproved or adulterated money, — 
to men unsound, not able to bear the test, not genuine as Christians, 2 
Cor. xiii. 5, — to the earth that is unfit to produce fruits, Heb. vi. 8. The 
nearest alliteration that can perhaps be presented is the following, " And 
as they did not deem it worth while to acknowledge God, God delivered 
them up to a worthless mind," that is, a mind unfit to discern between 
right and wrong. Beza gives this meaning, " Mentem omnis judicii ex- 
pertem — a mind void of all judgment." Locke's " unsearching mind," and 
Macknight's " unapproving mind," and Doddridge's " undiscerning mind," 
do not exactly convey the right idea, though the last comes nearest to it. 
It is an unattesting mind, not capable of bringing things to the test — $o«(- 
y.101, not able to distinguish between things of the most obvious nature. 

"To acknowledge God" is literally "to have God in recognition — ri» 
hit \x. w " iniy**"™'-" Venema says, that this is a purely.Greek idiom, 
and adduces passages from Herodotus and Xenophon ; from the first, the 
following phrase, lv etXoyiri ix w — to have in contempt, i.e., to contemn or 
despise. — Ed. 


Paul's design ; but he set them down as they occurred to 
his mind. What each of them signifies, we shall very briefly 

29. Understand by unrighteousness, the violation of jus- 
tice among men, by not rendering to each his due. I have 
rendered irovnplav, according to the opinion of Ammonius, 
wickedness ; for he teaches us that irovrjpov, the wicked, is 
hpao-riKov /ca/cov, the doer of evil. The word (nequitia) then 
means practised wickedness, or licentiousness in doing mis- 
chief : but maliciousness (malitia) is that depravity and 
obliquity of mind which leads us to do harm to our neigh- 
bour. 1 For the word, iropvelav, which Paul uses, I have put 
lust, (libidinem.) I do not, however, object, if one prefers to 
render it fornication ; but he means the inward passion as 
well as the outward act. 2 The words avarice, envy, and 
murder, have nothing doubtful in their meaning. Under 
the word strife, (contentione,) 3 he includes quarrels, fightings, 
and seditions. We have rendered /cctfcovOelav, perversity, (per- 
versitatem ;) 4 which is a notorious and uncommon wicked- 
ness ; that is, when a man, covered over, as it were, with 
hardness, has become hardened in a corrupt course of life by 
custom and evil habit. 

SO. The word Oeoarvyelq means, no doubt, haters of God ; 
for there is no reason to take it in a passive sense, (hated of 
God,) since Paul here proves men to be guilty by manifest 
vices. Those, then, are designated, who hate God, whose 
justice they seem to resist by doing wrong. Whisperers 
(susurrones) and slanderers (pbtrectatores) b are to be thus 
distinguished ; the former, by secret accusations, break off 

1 The two words are vovtipia and xax/«. Doddridge renders them " mis- 
chief and malignity." Parens says that xaxia is vice, opposed to **> aptrn 
— virtue. — Ed. 

* " Uopnia. has an extended sense, comprehending all illicit intercourse, 
whether fornication, adultery, incest, or any other verms illicita." — Stuart. 

8 Improperly rendered " debate " in our version — te^os, " strife," by 
Macknight, and " contention," by Doddridge. — Ed. 

* In our version, " malignity ;" by Macknight, " bad disposition ;" and 
by Doddridge, "inveteracy of evil habits." Schleusner thinks that it 
means here " malevolence." — Ed. 

6 Ka.Ta.xd.xous, literally gainsayers, or those who speak against others, — 
defamers, calumniators ; rendered " revilers," by Macknight. — Ed. 



the friendships of good men, inflame their minds with anger, 
defame the innocent, and sow discords ; and the latter, 
through an innate malignity, spare the reputation of no one, 
and, as though they were instigated by the fury of evil- 
speaking, they revile the deserving as well as the undeserv- 
ing. We have translated v§piara<;, villanous, (maleficos ;) for 
the Latin authors are wont to call notable injuries villanies, 
such as plunders, thefts, burnings, and sorceries ; and these 
were the vices which Paul meant to point out here. 1 I have 
rendered the word vireprifyavow;, used by Paul, insolent, (con- 
tumeliosos ;) for this is the meaning of the Greek word : and 
the reason for the word is this, — because such being raised, 
as it were, on high, look down on those who are, as it were, 
below them with contempt, and they cannot bear to look on 
their equals. Haughty are they who swell with the empty 
wind of overweeningness. Unsociable 2 are those who, by 
their iniquities, unloose the bands of society, or those in 
whom there is no sincerity or constancy of faith, who may 
be called truce-breakers. 

31 . Without the feelings of humanity are they who have 
put off the first affections of nature towards their own rela- 
tions. As he mentions the want of mercy as an evidence of 
human nature being depraved, Augustine, in arguing against 
the Stoics, concludes, that mercy is a Christian virtue. 

32. Who, knowing the judgment 6 of God, &c. Though this 
passage is variously explained, yet the following appears to 

1 The three words, vS^o-ras, ua-e^dvevs, and aXa%lva S , seem to designate 
three properties of a proud spirit — disdainful or insolent, haughty and 
vainglorious. The SS-pnm are those who treat others petulantly, contu- 
meliously, or insultingly. " Insolent," as given hy Macknight,is the most 
suitahle word. The u«regsj^«»«s is one who sets himself to view ahove 
others, the high and elevated, who exhibits himself as superior to others. 
The aX«2>v is the boaster, who assumes more than what belongs to him, 
or promises more than what he can perform. These three forms of pride 
are often seen in the world. — Ed. 

2 Unsociabiles — &finiireus . " Faithless," perhaps, would be the most 
suitable word. " Who adhere not to compacts," is the explanation of 

To preserve the same negative according to what is done in Greek, we 
may render (he 31st verse as follows : — 

31. Unintelligent, unfaithful, unnatural, unappeasable, unmerciful. — Ed. 

3 Calvin has " justitiam " here, though "judicium " is given in the text. 
— Ed. 


me the correctest interpretation, — that men left nothing- 
undone for the purpose of giving unbridled liberty to their 
sinful propensities ; for having taken away all distinction 
between good and evil, they approved in themselves and in 
others those things which they knew displeased God, and 
would be condemned by his righteous judgment. For it is 
the summit of all evils, when the sinner is so void of shame, 
that he is pleased with his own vices, and will not bear them 
to be reproved, and also cherishes them in others by his 
consent and approbation. This desperate wickedness is thus 
described in Scripture : " They boast when they do evil/' 
(Prov. ii. 14.) " She has spread out her feet, and gloried in 
her wickedness," (Ezek. xvi. 25.) For he who is ashamed is 
as yet healable ; but when such an impudence is contracted 
through a sinful habit, that vices, and not virtues, please us, 
and are approved, there is no more any hope of reformation. 
Such, then, is the interpretation I give ; for I see that the 
Apostle meant here to condemn something more grievous 
and more wicked than the very doing of vices : what that is 
I know not, except we refer to that which is the summit of 
all wickedness, — that is, when wretched men, having cast 
away all shame, undertake the patronage of vices in opposi- 
tion to the righteousness of God. 


1. Therefore thou art inexcusable, O 1. Propterea inexcusabilis es, O 
man, whosoever thou art that judgest : homo, quicunque judicas : in quo 
for wherein thou judgest another, thou enim judicas alteram, teipsum con- 
condemnest thyself ; for thou that judg- demnas ; eadem enim facis dum 
est doest the same things. judicas. 

2. But we are sure that the judgment 2. Novimus autem quod judi- 
of God is according to truth against cium Dei est secundum veritatem 
them which commit such things. in eos qui talia agunt. 

This reproof is directed against hypocrites, who dazzle the 
eyes of men by displays of outward sanctity, and even think 
themselves to be accepted before God, as though they had 
given him full satisfaction. Hence Paul, after having stated 
the grosser vices, that he might prove that none are just 


before God, now attacks saintlings (sanctulos) of this kind, 
who could not have been included in the first catalogue. 
Now the inference is too simple and plain for any one to 
wonder how the Apostle derived his argument ; for he makes 
them inexcusable, because they themselves knew the judg- 
ment of God, and yet transgressed the law ; as though he 
said, " Though thou consentest not to the vices of others, and 
seemest to be avowedly even an enemy and a reprover of 
vices ; yet as thou art not free from them, if thou really ex- 
aminest thyself, thou canst not bring forward any defence." 
For in what thou judgest another, &c. Besides the striking 
resemblance there is between the two Greek verbs, icplvuv 
and /cara/cpiveiv, (to judge and to condemn,) the enhancing 
of their sin ought to be noticed ; for his mode of speaking is 
the same, as though he said, " Thou art doubly deserving of 
condemnation ; for thou art guilty of the same vices which 
thou blamest and reprovest in others." It is, indeed, a well- 
known saying, — that they who scrutinize the life of others 
lay claim themselves to innocence, temperance, and all vir- 
tues ; and that those are not worthy of any indulgence who 
allow in themselves the same things which they undertake 
to correct in others. For thou, judging, doest the same things: 
so it is literally ; but the meaning is, " Though thou judgest, 
thou yet doest the same things." And he says that they did 
them, because they were not in a right state of mind ; for sin 
properly belongs to the mind. They then condemned them- 
selves on this account, — because, in reproving a thief, or an 
adulterer, or a slanderer, they did not merely condemn the 
persons, but those very vices which adhered to themselves. 1 

1 It is confessed by most that the illative, $«, at the beginning of the 

verse, can hardly be accounted for. The inference from the preceding is 

not very evident. It is, in my view, an instance of Hebraism ; and the 

reference is not to what has preceded, but to what is to come. It is not 

properly an illative, but it anticipates a reason afterwards given, conveyed 

by for, or, because. Its meaning will be seen in the following version : — 

On this account, inexcusable art thou, O man, whosoever thou be who 

condemnest another, because, in what thou condemnest another 

thou condemnest thyself ; for thou who condemnest doest the same 


The verb, *g/va,, has here the idea of condemning, or of passing judgment ; 

to judge is not sufficiently distinct. — Ed. 


2. But we know that the judgment of God, &c. The design 
of Paul is to shake off from hypocrites their self-complacen- 
cies, that they may not think that they can really gain any 
thing, though they be applauded by the world, and though 
they regard themselves guiltless ; for a far different trial 
awaits them in heaven. But as he charges them with inward 
impurity, which, being hid from the eyes of men, cannot be 
proved and convicted by human testimonies, he summons 
them to the tribunal of God, to whom darkness itself is not 
hid, and by whose judgment the case of sinners, be they 
willing or unwilling, must be determined. 

Moreover, the truth of judgment will in two ways appear, 
because God will punish sin without any respect of persons, 
in whomsoever it will be found ; and he will not heed outward 
appearances, nor be satisfied with any outward work, except 
what has proceeded from real sincerity of heart. It hence 
follows, that the mask of feigned sanctity will not prevent 
him from visiting secret wickedness with judgment. It is, 
no doubt, a Hebrew idiom ; for truth in Hebrew means often 
the inward integrity of the heart, and thus stands opposed 
not only to gross falsehood, but also to the outward appear- 
ance of good works. And then only are hypocrites awakened, 
when they are told that God will take an account, not only 
of their disguised righteousness, but also of their secret 
motives and feelings. 1 

3. And thinkest thou this, O man, 3. Existimas autem, homo, qui 
that judgest them which do such judicas eos qui talia faciunt, et 
things, and doest the same, that thou eadem facis, quod ipse effugies judi- 
shalt escape the judgment of God ? cium Dei ? 

4. Or despisest thou the riches of 4. An divitias honitatis ipsius 
his goodness, and forbearance, and tolerantiseque, ac lenitatis contem- 
long-suffering ; 2 not knowing that nis; ignorans quod bonitas Dei te 
the goodness of God leadeth thee to ad poenitentiam deducit ? 
repentance ? 

1 "According to truth" — axjhiav, means, according to the true 
state of the case, without any partiality, or according to what is just and 
equitable ; so Grotius takes it. Its corresponding word in Hebrew, J1DX, 
is sometimes rendered liKaioawn. It is found opposed to klix'ta. in 1 Cor. 
xiii. 6. The expression here may be deemed to be the same in meaning 
with lixatoK^ia'ia — righteous judgment, in verse 5. — Ed. 

1 Lenitatis — /mx^vftlaf, tarditatis ad iram. " Long-suffering " expresses 


5. But, after thy hardness and 5. Sed, juxta duritiam tuam, et 
impenitent heart, treasurest up unto cor poenitere nescium, thesaurizas 
thyself wrath against the day of tibi iram in diem irse et revelationis 
wrath and revelation of the right- justi judicii Dei; 

eous judgment of God ; 

6. Who will render to every man 6. Qui reddi turns est unicuique 
according to his deeds : secundam ipsius opera : 

7. To them who, by patient con- 7. lis quidem, qui per boni operis 
tinuance in well-doing, seek for glory, perseverantiam, gloriam et honorem 
and honour, and immortality, eternal et immortalitatem quserunt, vitam 
life ; seternam ; 

8»j But unto them that are con- 8. lis vero qui sunt contentiosi, 

tentious, and do not obey the truth, ac veritati immorigeri, injustitise 

but obey unrighteousness, indigna- autem obtemperant, excandescentia, 

tion and wrath, ira, tribulatio, 

9. Tribidation and anguish, upon 9. Et anxietas in omnem animam 
every soul of man that doeth evil, of hominis perpetrantis malum, Iudan 
the Jew first, and also of the Gentile : primum simul et Grseci : 

10. But glory, honour, and peace, 10. At gloria et honor et pax 
to every man that worketh good ; to omni operanti bonum, Iudseo pri- 
the Jew first, and also to the Gen- mum simul et Grasco. 


3. And thinkest thou, man, &c. As rhetoricians teach us, 
that we ought not to proceed to give strong reproof before 
the crime be proved, Paul may seem to some to have acted 
unwisely here for having passed so severe a censure, when 
he had not yet proved the accusation which he had brought 
forward. But the fact is otherwise ; for he adduced not his 
accusation before men, but appealed to the judgment of con- 
science ; and thus he deemed that proved which he had in 
view — that they could not deny their iniquity, if they ex- 
amined themselves and submitted to the scrutiny of God's 
tribunal. And it was not without urgent necessity, that he 
with so much sharpness and severity rebuked their fictitious 
sanctity ; for men of this class will with astonishing security 
trust in themselves, except their vain confidence be forcibly 
shaken from them. Let us then remember, that this is the 
best mode of dealing with hypocrisy, in order to awaken it 
from its inebriety, that is, to draw it forth to the light of 
God's judgment. 

the meaning very exactly. There is here a gradation — " goodness " — xi *>'- 
rirns, benevolence, kindness, bounty ; — " forbearance" — av»xh, withholding, 
i.e., of wrath ; — then " long-suffering," that is, bearing long with the sins 
of men. '•' Riches " mean abundance ; the same as though the expression 
was, " the abounding goodness," &c. — Ed. 


That thou shalt escape, &c. This argument is drawn from 
the less ; for since our sins are subject to the judgment of 
men, much more are they to that of God 3 who is the only 
true Judge of all. Men are indeed led by a divine instinct 
to condemn evil deeds ; but this is only an obscure and 
faint resemblance of the divine judgment. They are then 
extremely besotted, who think that they can escape the 
judgment of God, though they allow not others to escape 
their own judgment. It is not. without an emphatical mean- 
ing that he repeats the word man ; it is for the purpose of 
presenting a comparison between man and God. 

4. Dost thou despise the riches ? &c. It does not seem to 
me, as some think, that there is here an argument, conclu- 
sive on two grounds, (dilemma,) but an anticipation of an 
objection : for as hypocrites are commonly transported with 
prosperity, as though they had merited the Lord's kindness 
by their good deeds, and become thus more hardened in their 
contempt of God, the Apostle anticipates their arrogance, 
and proves, by an argument taken from a reason of an oppo- 
site kind, that there is no ground for them to think that 
God, on account of their outward prosperity, is propitious to 
them, since the design of his benevolence is far different, 
and that is, to convert sinners to himself. Where then the 
fear of God does not rule, confidence, on account of pro- 
sperity, is a contempt and a mockery of his great goodness. 
It hence follows, that a heavier punishment will be inflicted 
on those whom God has in this life favoured ; because, in 
addition to their other wickedness, they have rejected the 
fatherly invitation of God. And though all the gifts of God 
are so many evidences of his paternal goodness, yet as he 
often has a different object in view, the ungodly absurdly 
congratulate themselves on their prosperity, as though they 
were dear to him, while he kindly and bountifully supports 

Not knowing that the goodness of God, &c. For the Lord 
by his kindness shows to us, that it is he to whom we ought 
to turn, if we desire to secure our wellbeing, and at the 
same time he strengthens our confidence in expecting mercy. 
If we use not God's bounty for this end, we abuse it. But 


yet it is not to be viewed always in the same light ; for 
when the Lord deals favourably with his servants and gives 
them earthly blessings, he makes known to them by sym- 
bols of this kind his own benevolence, and trains them up at 
the same time to seek the sura and substance of all good 
things in himself alone : when he treats the transgressors of 
his law with the same indulgence, his object is to soften by 
his kindness their perverseness ; he yet does not testify that 
he is already propitious to them, but, on the contrary, in- 
vites them to repentance. But if any one brings this objec- 
tion — that the Lord sings to the deaf as long as he does not 
touch inwardly their hearts ; we must answer — that no fault 
can be found in this case except with our own depravity. 
But I prefer rendering the word which Paul here uses, leads, 
rather than invites, for it is more significant ; I do not, 
however, take it in the sense of driving, but of leading as it 
were by the hand. 

5. But according to thy hardness, &c. When we become 
hardened against the admonitions of the Lord, impenitence 
follows ; and they who are not anxious about repentance 
openly provoke the Lord. 1 

This is a remarkable passage : we may hence learn what 
I have already referred to — that the ungodly not only ac- 
cumulate for themselves daily a heavier weight of God's 
judgments, as long as they live here, but that the gifts of God 
also, which they continually enjoy, shall increase their con- 
demnation ; for an account of them all will be required : and 
it will then be found, that it will be justly imputed to them 
as an extreme wickedness, that they had been made worse 
through God's bounty, by which they ought surely to have 
been improved. Let us then take heed, lest by unlawful use 
of blessings we lay up for ourselves this cursed treasure. 

For the day, &c. ; literally, in the day; but it is put for eU 
rjfiepav, for the day. The ungodly gather now the indigna- 

1 What follows in the text, according to Calvin, is this, " et cor poeni- 
tere nescium — and a heart that knoweth not to repent ;" »«< apirxvivro» 
xufii'av, which Schleusner renders thus, " animus, qui omnem emenda- 
tionem respuit — a mind which rejects every improvement." It is an im- 
penitable rather than " an impenitent heart," that is, a heart incapable of 
repenting. See Eph. iv. 19. — Ed. 


tion of God against themselves, the stream of which shall 
then be poured on their heads : they accumulate hidden 
destruction, which then shall be drawn out from the treasures 
of God. The day of the last judgment is called the day of 
wrath, when a reference is made to the ungodly ; but it will 
be a day of redemption to the faithful. And thus all other 
visitations of God are ever described as dreadful and full of 
terror to the ungodly ; and on the contrary, as pleasant and 
joyful to the godly. Hence whenever the Scripture mentions 
the approach of the Lord, it bids the godly to exult with 
joy ; but when it turns to the reprobate, it proclaims nothing 
but dread and terror. " A day of wrath/' saith Zephaniah, 
" shall be that day, a day of tribulation and distress, a day 
of calamity and wretchedness, a day of darkness and of thick 
darkness, a day of mist and of whirlwind." (Zeph. i. 15.) 
You have a similar description in Joel ii. 2, &c. And Amos 
exclaims, " Woe to you who desire the day of the Lord ! 
what will it be to you ? The day of the Lord will be dark- 
ness, and not light." (Amos v. 18.) Farther, by adding the 
word revelation, Paul intimates what this day of wrath is to 
be, — that the Lord will then manifest his judgment : though 
he gives daily some indications of it, he yet suspends and 
holds back, till that day, the clear and full manifestation of 
it ; for the books shall then be opened ; the sheep shall then 
be separated from the goats, and the wheat shall be cleansed 
from the tares. 

6. Who will render to every one, &c. As he had to do 
with blind saintlings, who thought that the wickedness of 
their hearts was well covered, provided it was spread over 
with some disguises, I know not what, of empty works, he 
pointed out the true character of the righteousness of works, 
even that which is of account before God ; and he did this, 
lest they should feel confident that it was enough to pacify 
him, if they brought words and trifles, or leaves only. But 
there is not so much difficulty in this verse, as it is commonly 
thought.* For the Lord, by visiting the wickedness of the 
reprobate with just vengeance, will recompense them with 
what they have deserved : and as he sanctifies those whom 
he has previously resolved to glorify, he will also crown their 


good works, but not on account of any merit : nor can this 
be proved from this verse ; for though it declares what re- 
ward good works are to have, it does yet by no means 
show what they are worth, or what price is due to them. 
And it is an absurd inference, to deduce merit from reward. 
7. To them indeed, who by perseverance, &c. ; literally, pa- 
tience ; by which word something more is expressed. For it 
is perseverance, when one is not wearied in constantly doing 
good ; but patience also is required in the saints, by which 
they may continue firm, though oppressed with various trials. 
For Satan suffers them not by a free course to come to the 
Lord ; but he strives by numberless hinderances to impede 
them, and to turn them aside from the right way. And 
when he says, that the faithful, by continuing in good works, 
seek glory and honour, he does not mean that they aspire 
after any thing else but the favour of God, or that they strive 
to attain any thing higher, or more excellent : but they can- 
not seek him, without striving, at the same time, for the 
blessedness of his kingdom, the description of which is con- 
tained in the paraphrase given in these words. The mean- 
ing then is, — that the Lord will give eternal life to those 
who, by attention to good works, strive to attain immor- 
tality. 1 

1 It has appeared to some difficult to reconcile this language with the 
free salvation which the gospel offers, and to obviate the conclusion which 
many are disposed to draw from this passage — that salvation is by works 
as well as by faith. 

To this objection Parens answers, that the Apostle speaks here of sal- 
vation by the works of the law, not indeed as a thing possible, which he 
subsequently denies, but as a declaration of what it is, that he might there- 
by show the necessity of a gratuitous salvation which is by faith only. And 
this is the view which Mr. Haldane takes. 

But there is no need of having recourse to this hypothesis : for when- 
ever judgment is spoken of even in the New Testament, it is ever repre- 
sented in the same way, as being regulated in righteousness, according to 
the works of every individual. See Acts xvii. 31 ; 2 Cor. v. 10 ; Col. iii. 
24, 25; Rev. xx. 12; xxii. 12. 

It will be -a. judgment, conducted according to the perfect rule of justice, 
with no respect of persons, with no regard to individuals as such, whether 
high or low, much or little favoured as to outward privileges, but according 
to what their conduct has been, under the circumstances of their case. 
The rule, if heathens, will be the law of nature ; if Jews, the law which 
had been given them. Judgment, as to its character, will be still the same 
to those under the gospel ; it will be according to what the gospel re- 
quires. — Ed. 


8. But to those who are contentious, &c. There is some 
irregularity in the passage ; first, on account of its tenor be- 
ing interrupted, for the thread of the discourse required, that 
the second clause of the contrast should be thus connected, — 
" The Lord will render to them, who by perseverance in 
good works, seek glory, and honour, and immortality, eter- 
nal life ; but to the contentious and the disobedient, eternal 
death/' Then the conclusion might be joined, — " That for 
the former are prepared glory, and honour, and incorruption ; 
and that for the latter are laid up wrath and misery." There 
is another thing, — These words, indignation, wrath, tribula- 
tion, and anguish, are joined to two clauses in the context. 
However, the meaning of the passage is by no means ob- 
scure ; and with this we must be satisfied in the Apostolic 
writings. From other writings must eloquence be learnt : 
here spiritual wisdom is to be sought, conveyed in a plain 
and simple style. 1 

1 With regard to the construction of this passage, 6-10, it may be ob- 
served, that it is formed according to the mode of Hebrew parallelism, 
many instances of which we meet with even in the prose writings of the 
New Testament. None of the ancients, nor any of the moderns, before 
the time of Bishop Lowth, understood much of the peculiar character of the 
Hebrew style. All the anomalies, noticed by Calvin, instantly vanish, 
when the passage is so arranged, as to exhibit the correspondence of its 
different parts. It consists of two general portions ; the first includes 
three verses, 6, 7, and 8 ; the other, the remaining three verses. The 
same things are mainly included in both portions, only in the latter there 
are some things additional, and explanatory, and the order is reversed ; so 
that the passage ends with what corresponds with its beginning. To see 
the whole in a connected form, it is necessary to set it down in lines, in the 
following manner : — - 

6. Who will render to each according to his works, — 

7. To those indeed, who, by perseverance in well-doing, 
Seek glory and honour and immortality, — 
Eternal life ; 

8. But there shall be to them who are contentious, 
And obey not the truth, but obey iniquity, — 
Indignation and wrath : 

Then follow the same things, the order being reversed, — 

9. Distress and anguish shall be 

On every soul of man that worketh evil, — 
On the Jew first, and then on the Greek ; 

10. But glory and honour and peace, 
To every one who worketh good, — 

To the Jew first and then to the Greek ; 

11. For there is no respect of persons with God. 

The idea in the last and the first line is essentially the same. This re- 


Contention is mentioned here for rebellion and stubborn- 
ness ; for Paul was contending with hypocrites who, by their 
gross and supine self-indulgence, trifled with God. By the 
word truth, is simply meant the revealed will of God, which 
alone is the light of truth : for it is what belongs to all the 
ungodly, that they ever prefer to be in bondage to iniquity, 
rather than to receive the yoke of God ; and whatever obe- 
dience they may pretend, yet they never cease perversely to 
clamour and struggle against God's word. For as they who 
are openly wicked scoff at the truth, so hypocrites fear not 
to set up in opposition to it their artificial modes of worship. 
The Apostle further adds, that such disobedient persons obey 
or serve iniquity ; for there is no middle course, which those 
who are unwilling to be in subjection to the law of the Lord 
can take, so as to be kept from falling immediately into the 
service of sin. And it is the just reward of outrageous 
licentiousness, that those become the bondslaves of sin who 
cannot endure the service of God. Indignation and wrath, 
so the character of the words induces me to render them ; for 
Ovfjbos in Greek means what the Latins call excandescentia — 
indignation, as Cicero teaches us, (Tusc. 4,) even a sudden 
burning of anger. As to the other words I follow Erasmus. 
But observe, that of the four which are mentioned, the two 
last are, as it were, the effects of the two first ; for they who 
perceive that God is displeased and angry with them are 
immediately filled with confusion. 

We may add, that though he might have briefly described, 
even in two words, the blessedness of the godly and also the 
misery of the reprobate, he yet enlarges on both subjects, 
and for this end — that he might more effectually strike men 

petition is for the sake of producing an impression. The character of the 
righteous, in the first part, is, that by persevering in doing good they seek 
glory, honour, and immortality ; and their reward is to be eternal life : 
the character of the wicked is that of being contentious, disobedient to the 
truth, and obedient to unrighteousness ; and their reward is to be indig- 
nation and wrath. The character of the first, in the second part, is, that 
they work good ; and of the other, that they work evil : and the reward 
of the first is glory, honour, and peace ; and the reward of the other, dis- 
tress and anguish ; which are the effects of indignation and wrath, as glory, 
honour, and peace are the fruits or the constituent parts of eternal life. 
It is to be observed that priority in happiness, as well as priority in misery, 
is ascribed to the Jew. — Ed. 


with the fear of God's wrath, and sharpen their desire for ob- 
taining grace through Christ : for we never fear God's judg- 
ment as we ought, except it be set as it were by a lively 
description before our eyes ; nor do we really burn with de- 
sire for future life, except when roused by strong incentives, 
(multis flabellis incitati — incited by many fans.) 

9. To the Jew first, &c. He simply places, I have no 
doubt, the Jew in opposition to the Gentile; for those whom 
he calls Greeks he will presently call Gentiles. But the 
Jews take the precedence in this case, for they had, in pre- 
ference to others, both the promises and the threatenings of 
the law ; as though he had said, " This is the universal rule 
of tbe divine judgment ; it shall begin with the Jews, and it 
shall include the whole world." 

1 1 . For there is no respect of per- 1 1 . Siquidem non est acceptio per- 
sons with God. sonarum apud Deum. 

12. For as many as have sinned 12. Quicunque enim sine Lege 
without law, shall also perish without peccaverunt sine Lege etiam peri- 
law ; and as many as have sinned in bunt ; quicunque vero in Lege pec- 
the law, shall be judged by the law, caverunt per Legem judicabuntur, 

13. (For not the hearers of the 13. Non enim Legis auditores 
law are just before God, but the justi sunt apud Deum, sed qui Legem 
doers of the law shall be justified. faciunt justificabuntur. 

11. There is no respect of persons, &c. He has hitherto 
generally arraigned all mortals as guilty; but now he begins 
to bring home his accusation to the Jews and to the Gen- 
tiles separately : and at the same time he teaches us, that it 
is no objection that there is a difference between them, but 
that they are both without any distinction exposed to eter- 
nal death. The Gentiles pretended ignorance as their de- 
fence ; the Jews gloried in the honour of having the law : 
from the former he takes away their subterfuge, and he de- 
prives the latter of their false and empty boasting. 

There is then a division of the whole human race into two 
classes ; for God had separated the Jews from all the rest, 
but the condition of all the Gentiles was the same. He now 
teaches us, that this difference is no reason why both should 
not be involved in the same guilt. But the word person is 
taken in Scripture for all outward things, which are wont to 
be regarded as possessing any value or esteem. When there- 


fore thou readest, that God is no respecter of persons, un- 
derstand that what he regards is purity of heart or inward 
integrity ; and that he hath no respect for those things 
which are wont to he highly valued by men, such as kin- 
dred, country, dignity, wealth, and similar things ; so that 
respect of persons is to be here taken for the distinction or 
the difference there is between one nation and another. 1 
But if any hence objects and says, " That then there is no 
such thing as the gratuitous election of God ;" it may be 
answered, That there is a twofold acceptation of men before 
God ; the first, when he chooses and calls us from nothing, 
through gratuitous goodness, as there is nothing in our na- 
ture which can be approved by him ; the second, when 
after having regenerated us, he confers on us his gifts, and 
shows favour to the image of his Son which he recognises 
in us. 

12. Whosoever have sinned without law, 2 &c. In the former 
part of this section he assails the Gentiles ; though no Moses 
was given them to publish and to ratify a law from the Lord, 
he yet denies this omission to be a reason why they deserved 

1 The word ■pr^txru^aXfi^ia, respect of persons, is found in three other 
places, Eph. vi. 9 ; Col. iii. 25 ; and James ii. 1 ; and in these the refer- 
ence is to conditions in life. In Acts x. 34, the word is in another form, 
«•gafl-AiaaXMsrww, a respecter of persons, and as a verb in James ii. 9. The 
full phrase is •xqotxaivov xapGavu, as found in Luke xx. 21, and Gal. ii. 6. 
It is a phrase peculiar to the Hebrew language, and means literally, to lift 
up or regard faces, that is, persons, D'OB RSM. See Lev. xix. 15 ; Deut. 
x. 17; 2 Chron. xix. 7. 

An argument has been hence taken to oppose the doctrine of election ; 
but this is to apply to a particular thing what belongs entirely and exclu- 
sively to another. This belongs to the administration of justice, but elec- 
tion is the exercise of mercy. Even Orotius admits, that God manifests 
a difference in bestowing benefits, but not in exercising judgment. Indeed, 
in the present instance, with regard to the subject handled by the Apostle, 
there was a manifest difference ; the Gentile had only the law of nature, 
but the Jew had a revealed law. Yet when brought to judgment there 
was to be no respect of persons; each was to be judged impartially ac- 
cording to the circumstances of his condition. And further, election does 
not proceed on the principle of showing respect of persons, that is, of 
regarding men according to their privileges or outward circumstances, or 
kindred or relation in life, or any thing in man ; but its sole and exclusive 
ground or reason is the good pleasure of God. — Ed. 

1 'Avifiag commonly means unlawfully, wickedly, lawlessly; but here, 
as it is evident from the context, it signifies to be without law. The ad- 
jective dvopo; is also used once in this sense in 1 Cor. ix. 21. — Ed. 


not the just sentence of death for their sins ; as though he 
had said — that the knowledge of a written law was not ne- 
cessary for the just condemnation of a sinner. See then what 
kind of advocacy they undertake, who through misplaced 
mercy, attempt, on the ground of ignorance, to exempt the 
nations who have not the light of the gospel from the judg- 
ment of God. 

Whosoever have sinned under the law, &c. As the Gen- 
tiles, being led by the errors of their own reason, go headlong 
into ruin, so the Jews possess a law by which they are con- 
demned j 1 for this sentence has been long ago pronounced, 
" Cursed are all they who continue not in all its precepts." 
(Deut. xxvii. 26.) A worse condition then awaits the Jewish 
sinners, since their condemnation is already pronounced in 
their own law. 

13. For the hearers of the law, &c. This anticipates an 
objection which the Jews might have adduced. As they 
had heard that the law was the rule of righteousness, (Deut. 
iv. 1,) they gloried in the mere knowledge of it: to obviate 
this mistake, he declares that the hearing of the law or any 
knowledge of it is of no such consequence, that any one 
should on that account lay claim to righteousness, but. that 
works must be produced, according to this saying, " He who 
will do these shall live in them." The import then of this 
verse is the following, — " That if righteousness be sought 
from the law, the law must be fulfilled ; for the righteous- 
ness of the law consists in the perfection of works." They 
who pervert this passage for the purpose of building up jus- 
tification by works, deserve most fully to be laughed at even 
by children. It is therefore improper and beyond what is 
needful, to introduce here a long discussion on the subject, 
with the view of exposing so futile a sophistry : for the 
Apostle only urges here on the Jews what he had mentioned, 
the decision of the law, — That by the law they could not be 
justified, except they fulfilled the law, that if they trans- 

1 The Avord " condemned" would be better in tbe text than "judged ;" 
it would then more plainly correspond with the former part, where the 
word " perished" is used : and that it means "condemned" is evident, for 
those who have " sinned" are the persons referred to. — Ed. 


gressed it, a curse was instantly pronounced on tkein. Now 
we do not deny but that perfect righteousness is prescribed 
in the law : but as all are convicted of transgression, we say 
that another righteousness must be sought. Still more, we 
can prove from this passage that no one is justified by works ; 
for if they alone are justified by the law who fulfil the law, 
it follows that no one is justified; for no one can be found 
who can boast of having fulfilled the law. 1 

14. For when the Gentiles, which 14. Quum enim Gentes, quae 
have not the law, do by nature the Legem non habent, natura quae Le- 
things contained in the law, these, gis sunt faciant, ipsse, Legem non 
having not the law, are a law unto habentes, sibi ipsse sunt Lex : 
themselves : 

15. Which shew the work of the 15. Quae ostendunt opus Legis 
law written in their hearts, their scriptum in cordibus suis, simul at- 
conscience also bearing witness, and testante ipsorum conscientia -et co- 
their thoughts the mean while ac- gitationibus inter se accusantibus 
cusing or else excusing one an- aut etiam excusantibus, 


16. In the day when God shall 16. In die qua judicabit Deus 
judge the secrets of men by Jesus occulta hominum, secundum Evan- 
Christ, according to my gospel. gelium meum, per Iesum Christum. 

14. For when the Gentiles, &c. He now states what proves 
the former clause ; for he did not think it enough to con- 
demn us by mere assertion, and only to pronounce on us the 
just judgment of God ; but he proceeds to prove this by rea- 
sons, in order to excite us to a greater desire for Christ, and 
to a greater love towards him. He indeed shows that ig- 
norance is in vain pretended as an excuse by the Gentiles, 
since they prove by their own deeds that they have some 
rule of righteousness : for there is no nation so lost to every 
thing human, that it does not keep within the limits of 
some laws. Since then all nations, of themselves and with- 
out a monitor, are disposed to make laws for themselves, it 
is beyond all question evident that they have some notions 
of justice and rectitude, which the Greeks call preconcep- 
tions, 7rpo\r)tyei<i, and which are implanted by nature in the 

1 On the expression " hearers of the law," Stuart has these remarks, — 
" The Apostle here speaks of ol aK^oarai roZ vlpou, because the Jews were 
accustomed to hear the Scriptures read in public ; but many of them did 
not individually possess copies of the sacred volume which they could read." 


hearts of men. They have then a law, though they are 
without law : for though they have not a written law, they 
are yet by no means wholly destitute of the knowledge of 
what is right and just ; as they could not otherwise dis- 
tinguish between vice and virtue ; the first of which they 
restrain by punishment, and the latter they commend, and 
manifest their approbation of it by honouring it with rewards. 
He sets nature in opposition to a written law, meaning that 
the Grentiles had the natural light of righteousness, which 
supplied the place of that law by which the Jews were in- 
structed, so that they were a law to themselves. 1 

15. Who show the work of the law 2 written, &c. ; that is, 
they prove that there is imprinted on their hearts a discri- 
mination and judgment by which they distinguish between 
what is just and unjust, between what is honest and dis- 
honest. He means not that it was so engraven on their 
will, that they sought and diligently pursued it, but that they 
were so mastered by the power of truth, that they could not 
disapprove of it. For why did they institute religious rites, 
except that they were convinced that God ought to be wor- 
shipped ? "Why were they ashamed of adultery and theft, 
except that they deemed them evils ? 

Without reason then is the j>ower of the will deduced 
from this passage, as though Paul had said, that the keeping 
of the law is within our power ; for he speaks not of the 
power to fulfil the law, but of the knowledge of it. Nor is 
the word heart to be taken for the seat of the affections, but 

1 As to the phrase, " these are a law unto themselves," Venema ad- 
duces classical examples, — " «» ro SiXntrrov Qawofiivov 'ifftu ffoi no/tog ava^a,- 

Sxms — Whatever seems best, let it be to thee a perpetual law." — Epict. 
in JEnch., c. 75. " ?o ph o^ov vopo; \t<r\ €a<riXvxos — What is indeed right, i 
a royal law." — Plato in Min., p. 317. 

The heathens themselves acknowledged a law of nature. Turrettin 
quotes a passage from a lost work of Cicero, retained by Lactantius, which 
remarkably coincides with the language of Paul here. — Ed. 

2 By the work of the law, ro 'igyov too vifiov, is to be understood what the 
law requires. The " work of God," in John vi. 29, is of the same import, 
that is, the work which God requires or demands ; and the same word is 
plural in the former verse, ™ i^ya — " the works of God." So here, in 
the former verse, it is t« rod t'opou — " the things of the law," where we may 
suppose ££ya to be understood. The common expression, " the works of 
the law," has the same meaning, that is, such works as the law prescribes 
and requires. — Ed. 



only for the understanding, as it is found in Deut. xxix. 4, 
" The Lord hath not given thee a heart to understand ;" and 
in Luke xxiv. 25, " foolish men, and slow in heart to be- 

Nor can we conclude from this passage, that there is in 
men a full knowledge of the law, but that there are only 
some seeds of what is right implanted in their nature, evi- 
denced by such acts as these — All the Gentiles alike insti- 
tuted religious rites, they made laws to punish adultery, 
and theft, and murder, they commended good faith in bar- 
gains and contracts. They have thus indeed proved, that 
God ought to be worshipped, that adultery, and theft, and 
murder are evils, that honesty is commendable. It is not 
to our purpose to inquire what sort of God they imagined 
him to be, or how many gods they devised ; it is enough to 
know, that they thought that there is a God, and that 
honour and worship are due to him. It matters not whether 
they permitted the coveting of another man's wife, or of his 
possessions, or of any thing which was his, — whether they 
connived at wrath and hatred ; inasmuch as it was not right 
for them to covet what they knew to be evil when clone. 

Their conscience at the same time attesting, &c. He could 
not have more forcibly urged them than by the testimony of 
their own conscience, which is equal to a thousand witnesses. 
By the consciousness of having done good, men sustain and 
comfort themselves ; those who are conscious of having done 
evil, are inwardly harassed and tormented. Hence came 
these sayings of the heathens — " A good conscience is the 
widest sphere ; but a bad one is the cruellest executioner, 
and more fiercely torments the ungodly than any furies can 
do." There is then a certain knowledge of the law by 
nature, which says, " This is good and worthy of being 
desired ; that ought to be abhorred/' 

But observe how intelligently he defines conscience : he 
says, that reasons come to our minds, by which we defend 
what is rightly done, and that there are those which accuse 
and reprove us for our vices j 1 and he refers this process of 

1 Calvin seems to consider that the latter part of the verse is only an 
expansion or an exposition of the preceding clause respecting " conscience :" 


accusation and defence to the day of the Lord ; not that it 
will then first commence, for it is now continually carried 
on, but that it will then also be in operation ; and he says 
this, that no one should disregard this process, as though it 
were vain and evanescent. And he has put, in the day, in- 
stead of, at the day, — a similar instance to what we have 
already observed. 

16. In which God shall judge the secrets of men. 1 Most 
suitable to the present occasion is this periphrastic definition 
of judgment : it teaches those, who wilfully hide themselves 
in the recesses of insensibility, that the most secret thoughts 
and those now completely hid in the depths of their hearts, 
shall then be brought forth to the light. So he speaks in 
another place ; in order to show to the Corinthians what 
little value belongs to human judgment, which regards only 
the outward action, he bids them to wait until the Lord 
came, who would bring to light the hidden things of dark- 

but it seems to contain a distinct idea. The testimony of conscience is 
one thing, which is instantaneous, without reflection : and the thoughts or 
the reasonings — Xoynr^Zv, which alternately or mutually accuse or excuse, 
seem to refer to a process carried on by the mind, by which the innate 
voice of conscience is confirmed. This is the view taken by Stuart and 
Barnes, and to which Hodge is inclined. 

Another view of the latter clause is given by Doddridge, Macknight, 
Haldane, and Chalmers. The last gives this paraphrase of the whole 
verse, — " For they show that the matter of the law is written in their 
hearts — both from their- conscience testifying what is right and wrong in 
their own conduct, and from their reasonings in which they either accuse 
or vindicate one another." 

But to regard the two clauses as referring to conscience and the inward 
workings of the mind, appears more consistent with the context. Th'e 
Gentiles are those spoken of : God gave them no outward law, but the law 
of nature which is inward. Hence in the following verse he speaks of 
God as judging " the secrets of men," as the inward law will be the rule 
of judgment to the Gentiles. — Ed. 

1 In accordance with some of the fathers, Jerome, Chrysostom, Theo- 
pJiylact, and others, Calvin connects this with the immediately preceding 
verse : but almost all modern critics connect it with the 12th verse, and 
consider what intervenes as parenthetic. This is according to our version. 
In the 12th verse both the Gentile and the Jew are spoken of, and that 
with reference to judgment. In this verse the time and the character of 
that judgment are referred to, and its character especially as to the Gen- 
tile, as his case is particularly delineated in the parenthesis. The Apostle 
then, in what follows, turns to the Jew. " According to my gospel " 
must be understood, not as though the gospel is to be the rule of judg- 
ment to the Gentile, but as to the fact, that Christ is appointed to be the 
Judge of all. See Acts xvii. 31. — Ed. 


ness, and reveal the secrets of the heart. (1 Cor. iv. 5.) 
When we hear this, let it come to our minds, that we are 
warned that if we wish to be really approved by our Judge, 
we must strive for sincerity of heart. 

He adds, according to my gospel, intimating, that he an- 
nounced a doctrine, to which the judgments of men, natur- 
ally implanted in them, gave a response : and he calls it 
his gospel, on account of the ministry ; for the authority for 
setting forth the gospel resides in the true God alone ; and 
it was only the dispensing of it that was committed to the 
Apostles. It is indeed no matter of surprise, that the gospel 
is in part called the messenger and the announcer of future 
judgment : for if the fulfilment and completion of what it 
promises be deferred to the full revelation of the heavenly 
kingdom, it must necessarily be connected with the last judg- 
ment : and further, Christ cannot be preached without being 
a resurrection to some, and a destruction to others ; and 
both these things have a reference to the day of judgment. 
The words, through Jesus Christ, I apply to the day of judg- 
ment, though they are regarded otherwise by some ; and 
the meaning is, — that the Lord will execute judgment by 
Christ, for he is appointed by the Father to be the Judge of 
the living and of the dead, — which the Apostles always 
mention among the main articles of the gospel. Thus the 
sentence will be full and complete, which would otherwise 
be defective. 

. 17. Behold, thou art called a Jew, 17. Ecce, tu Iudseus cognonii- 

and restest in the law, and makest naris, et acquiescis in Lege, et glo- 

thy boast of God, riaris in Deo, 

18. And knowest his will, and 18. Et nosti voluntatem, et pro- 
approvest the things that "are more bas eximia, institutus ex Lege ; 
excellent, being instructed out of the 


19. And art confident that thou 19. Oonfidisque teipsum esse du- 
thyself art a guide of the blind, a cem csecorum, lumen eorum qui 
light of them which are in darkness, sunt in tenebris, 

20. An instructer of the foolish, 20. Eruditorem insipientium, doc- 
a teacher of babes, which hast the torem imperitorum, habentem for- 
form of knowledge and of the truth mam cognitionis ac veritatis in 
in the law. Lege : 

21. Thou therefore which teachest 21. Qui igitur doces alterum, 
another, teachest thou not thyself? teipsum non doces ; qui concionaris, 
thou that preachest a man should non furandum, furaris ; 

not steal, dost thou steal ? 


22. Thou that sayest a man should 22. Qui dicis, non moechandum, 
not commit adultery, dost thou com- moecharis ; qui detestaris idola, sa- 
mit adultery ? thou that abhorrest crilegium perpetras ; 

idols, dost thou commit sacrilege ? 

23. Thou that makest thy boast 23. Qui de Lege gloriaris, Deum 
of the law, through breaking the per Legis transgressionem deho- 
law dishonourest thou God ? nestas : 

24. For the name of God is bias- 24. Nomen enim Dei propter vos 
phemed among the Gentiles through probro afficitur inter gentes, quem- 
you, as it is written. 1 admodum scriptum est. 

17. Behold, thou art named a Jew, &c. Some old copies 
read el Se, though indeed ; which, were it generally received, 
would meet my approbation ; but as the greater part of the 
manuscripts is opposed to it, and the sense is not unsuitable, 
I retain the old reading, especially as it is only a small 
difference of one letter. 2 

Having now completed what he meant to say of the 
Gentiles, he returns to the Jews ; and that he might, with 
greater force, beat down their great vanity, he allows them 
all those privileges, by which they were beyond measure 
transported and inflated : and then he shows how insufficient 
they were for the attainment of true glory, yea, how they 
turned to their reproach. Under the name Jew he includes 
all the privileges of the nation, which they vainly pretended 
were derived from the law and the prophets ; and so he 
comprehends all the Israelites, all of whom were then, with- 
out any difference, called Jews. 

But at what time this name first originated it is uncer- 
tain, except that it arose, no doubt, after the dispersion. 3 
Josephus, in the eleventh book of his Antiquities, thinks 
that it was taken from Judas Maccabseus, under whose aus- 
pices the liberty and honour of the people, after having for 

1 These texts are referred to, Is. lii. 5 ; Ezek. xxxvi. 20. 

2 Griesbach has since found a majority of MSS. in favour of this read- 
ing, and has adopted it. But the difficulty is to find a corresponding 
clause. There is none, except what begins in verse 21; i/ 2s and olv do not 
well respond, except we render the first, though indeed, and the other, 
yet, or nevertheless, somewhat, in the sense of an adversative. It will 
admit this meaning in some passages. See Matt. xii. 12 ; xxvi. 54 ; 

• Rom. x. 14.— -Ed. 

3 This is not quite correct. They were called Jews even before the cap- 
tivity, and during the captivity, but most commonly and regularly after it. 
The word, Jews, first occurs in 2 Kings xvi. 6. See Esth. iv. 3 ; Jer. 
xxxviii. 19 ; Dan. iii. 8 ; Ezra iv. 12 ; Neh. ii. 16.— Ed. 


some time fallen, and been almost buried, revived again. 
Though I allow this opinion to be probable, yet, if there be 
some to whom it is not satisfactory, I will offer them a con- 
jecture of my own. It seems, indeed, very likely, that after 
having been degraded and scattered through so many dis- 
asters, they were not able to retain any certain distinction 
as to their tribes ; for a census could not have been made 
at that time, nor did there exist a regular government, 
which was necessary to preserve an order of this kind ; and 
they dwelt scattered and in disorder ; and having been worn 
out by adversities, they were no doubt less attentive to the 
records of their kindred. But though you may not grant 
these things to me, yet it cannot be denied but that a danger 
of this kind was connected with such disturbed state of 
things. Whether, then, they meant to provide for the future, 
or to remedy an evil already received, they all, I think, 
assumed the name of that tribe, in which the purity of reli- 
gion remained the longest, and which, by a peculiar privi- 
lege, excelled all the rest, as from it the Redeemer was 
expected to come ; for it was their refuge in all extremities, 
to console themselves with the expectation of the Messiah. 
However this may be, by the name of Jews they avowed 
themselves to be the heirs of the covenant which the Lord 
had made with Abraham and his seed. 

And restest in the law, and gloriest in God, &c. He means 
not that they rested in attending to the law, as though they 
applied their minds to the keeping of it ; but, on the con- 
trary, he reproves them for not observing the end for which 
the law had been given ; for they had no care for its observ- 
ance, and were inflated on this account only, — because they 
were persuaded that the oracles of God belonged to them. 
In the same way they gloried in God, not as the Lord com- 
mands by his Prophet, — to humble ourselves, and to seek our 
glory in him alone, (Jer. ix. 24,) — but being without any 
knowledge of God's goodness, they made him, of whom they 
were inwardly destitute, peculiarly their own, and assumed 
to be his people, for the purpose of vain ostentation before 
men. This, then, was not the glorying of the heart, but the 
boasting of the tongue. 


18. And knowest his will, and approvest things excellent, 
&c. He now concedes to them the knowledge of the divine 
will, and the approval of things useful ; and this they had 
attained from the doctrine of the law. But there is a two- 
fold approval, — one of choice, when we embrace the good we 
approve ; the other of judgment, by which indeed we dis- 
tinguish good from evil, but by no means strive or desire to 
follow it. Thus the Jews were so learned in the law that 
they could pass judgment on the conduct of others, but were 
not careful to regulate their life according to that judgment. 
But as Paul reproves their hypocrisy, we may, on the other 
hand, conclude, that excellent things are then only rightly 
approved (provided our judgment proceeds from sincerity) 
when God is attended to ; for his will, as it is revealed in 
the law, is here appointed as the guide and teacher of what 
is to be justly approved. 1 

19. And believest thyself, &c. More is still granted to 
them ; as though they had not only what was sufficient for 
themselves, but also that by which they could enrich others. 
He grants, indeed, that they had such abundance of learning, 
as that others might have been supplied. 2 

20. I take what follows, having the form of knowledge, as a 

1 There are two expositions of the words, Sox/^a^/j ™ ha<p$£ovrcc, which 
may be sustained according to what the words signify in other places. 
The first word means to prove, or test, or examine, and also to approve ; 
and the second signifies things which differ, or things which are excellent. 
" Thou provest, or, distinguishest things which differ," is the rendering of 
Beza, Parvus, Doddridge, and Stuart : " Thou approvest things excellent 
or useful," is the rendering of Erasmus, Macknight, and others. The first 
is the most suitable to the context, as knowledge, and not approval, is 
evidently intended, as proved by the explanatory clause which follows, — 
" being instructed out of the law." — Ed. 

2 Calvin has passed over here several clauses : they are so plain as to 
require no remarks, except the two last. " The instructor of the unwise 
— insipientium," a<p^'ovuv, of such as were foolish from not understanding 
things rightly. " The teacher of the ignorant — imperitorum," wz-Lv, 
babes, that is, of such as were ignorant like babes. But these and the 
foregoing titles, " the guide of the blind," and, " light to those in dark- 
ness," were such as the Jewish doctors assumed, and are not to be con- 
sidered as having any great difference in their real meaning. There seems 
to be no reason to suppose, with Doddridge and some others, that " the 
blind, foolish, ignorant," were the Gentiles, for the Jews did not assume 
the office of teaching them. It is to be observed that Paul here takes the 
case, not of the common people, but of the learned — the teachers. 


reason for the preceding ; and it may be thus explained, — 
" because thou hast the form of knowledge." For they pro- 
fessed to be the teachers of others, because they seemed to 
carry in their breasts all the secrets of the law. The word 
form is put for model {exemplar — pattern) ; x for Paul has 
adopted fidpcpcocrtv and not tvttov: but he intended, I think, 
to point out the conspicuous pomp of their teaching, and 
what is commonly called display ; and it certainly appears 
that they were destitute of that knowledge which they pre- 
tended. But Paul, by indirectly ridiculing the perverted 
use of the law, intimates, on the other hand, that right 
knowledge must be sought from the law, in order that the 
truth may have a solid basis. 

21. Thou, who then teachest another, teachest not thyself, 
&c. 2 Though the excellencies {encomia — commendations) 

1 The same word occurs only in 2 Tim. iii. 5, " p'o^oiaiv il/irtSiia.s — the 
form of godliness." It is taken here in a good sense, as meaning a sketch, 
a delineation, an outline, a representation, or a summary. Chalmers ren- 
ders the words thus, — "The whole summary of knowledge and truth which 
is in the law." Some understand by knowledge what refers to morals or 
outward conduct, and by truth what is to be believed. Others regard them 
as an instance of Hebrewism, two substantives being put, instead of a sub- 
stantive and an adjective ; the phrase would then be, " true knowledge." — 

2 This clause, and those which follow, are commonly put in an interro- 
gatory form, that is, as questions : but some, as Theophylact, Erasmus, 
and Luther, have rendered the clauses in the form here adopted. There 
is no difference in the meaning. 

It is worthy of notice, that the Apostle, after the Hebrew manner, re- 
verses the order as to the points he mentions ; he, as it were, retrogrades, 
and begins to do so at this verse, the 21st. The passage may be thus ren- 

17. Seeing then, thou art named a Jew, 

And reliest on the law, and gloriest in God, 

18. And knowest his will, 

And decernest things which differ, being taught by the law, 

19. And art confident that thou art 

A leader to the blind, a light to those in darkness, 

20. An instructor to the foolish, a teacher to babes, 

Having the form of knowledge and of truth according to the law: 

21. Yet thou, who teachest another, teachest not thyself, 
Thou, who preachest, " Steal not," stealest, 

22. Thou, who sayest, " Commit no adultery," committest adultery, 
Thou who detestest idols, committest sacrilege, 

23. Thou who gloriest in the law, by transgressing the law dishonourest 

For the name of God, as it is written, is through you blasphemed 
by the Gentiles. 


which he has hitherto stated respecting the Jews, were such 
as might have justly adorned them, provided the higher or- 
naments were not wanting ; yet as they included qualifica- 
tions of a neutral kind, which may be possessed even by the 
ungodly and corrupted by abuse, they are by no means suffi- 
cient to constitute true glory. And hence Paul, not satis- 
fied with merely reproving and taunting their arrogance in 
trusting in these things alone, employs them for the purpose 
of enhancing their disgraceful conduct ; for he exposes him- 
self to no ordinary measure of reproach, who not only ren- 
ders useless the gifts of God, which are otherwise valuable 
and excellent, but by his wickedness vitiates and contami- 
nates them. And a strange counsellor is he, who consults 
not for his own good, and is wise only for the benefit of 
others. He shows then that the praise which they appro- 
priated to themselves, turned out to their own disgrace. 

Thou who preachest, steal not, &c. He seems to have al- 
luded to a passage in Psalm 1. 16, where God says to the 
wicked, " Why dost thou declare my statutes, and takest my 
covenant in thy mouth ? And thou hatest reform, and hast 
cast my words behind thee : when thou seest a thief, thou 
joinest him, and with adulterers is thy portion." And as 
this reproof was suitable to the Jews in old time, who, rely- 
ing on the mere knowledge of the law, lived in no way better 
than if they had no law; so we must take heed, lest it 
should be turned against us at this day : and indeed it may 
be well applied to many, who, boasting of some extraordi- 
nary knowledge of the gospel, abandon themselves to every 
kind of uncleanness, as though the gospel were not a rule of 
life. That we may not then so heedlessly trifle with the 
Lord, let us remember what sort of judgment impends over 
such prattlers, (logodcedalis — word-artificers,) who make a 
show of God's word by mere garrulity. 

The 21st, and part of the 22d, refer to what is contained in the 19th 
and the 20th ; and the latter part of the 22d to the 18th verse ; and the 
23d to the 17th. The latter part of the 22d helps us to fix the meaning 
of the latter part of the 18th ; the man who hated idols and committed 
sacrilege proved that he did not exercise his boasted power of making a 
proper distinction between right and wrong. Then the man who is said, 
in verse 17, to rely on the law and glory in God, is charged, in the 23d 
verse, with the sin of dishonouring God by transgressing the law. — Ed. 


22. Thou who abhorrest idols, &c. He fitly compares sa- 
crilege to idolatry, as it is a thing of the same kind ; for 
sacrilege is simply a profanation of the Divine Majesty, a 
sin not unknown to heathen poets. On this account Ovid 
(Metamor. 3,) calls Lycurgus sacrilegious for despising the 
rites of Bacchus ; and in his Fasti he calls those sacrilegious 
hands which violated the majesty of Venus. But as the 
Gentiles ascribed the majesty of their gods to idols, they 
only thought it a sacrilege when any one plundered what 
was dedicated to their temples, in which, as they believed, 
the whole of religion centred. So at this day, where super- 
stition reigns, and not the word of God, they acknowledge 
no other kind of sacrilege than the stealing of what belongs 
to churches, as there is no God but in idols, no religion but 
in pomp and magnificence. 1 

Now we are here warned, first, not to flatter ourselves 
and to despise others, when we have performed only some 
portions of the law, — and, secondly, not to glory in having 
outward idolatry removed, while we care not to drive away 
and to eradicate the impiety that lieth hid in our hearts. 

23. Thou who gloriest in the law, &c. Though every trans- 
gressor dishonours God, (for we are all born for this end — to 
serve him in righteousness and holiness ;) yet he justly im- 
putes in this respect a special fault to the Jews ; for as they 

1 " Sacrilege," mentioned here, is by some taken literally as meaning 
the robbing of God as to the sacrifices he required, and the profanation of 
sacred rites ; " many examples of which," says Turrettin, " are recorded by 
the Prophets, and also by Josephus, both before and during the last war." 
But some extend its meaning to acts of hypocrisy and ungodliness, by 
which God's honour was profaned, and the glory due to him was denied. 
The highest sacrilege, no doubt, is to deprive God of that sincere ser- 
vice and obedience which he justly requires. " They caused," says Pa- 
rens, " the name and honour of God to be in various ways blasphemed 
by their wicked hypocrisy ; and hence they were justly said by the Apostle 
to be guilty of sacrilege." He then adds, "We must notice, that idolatry 
is not opposed to sacrilege, but mentioned as a thing closely allied to it. 
Indeed all idolatry is sacrilegious. How then can the Monks, Priests, and 
Jesuits clear themselves from the charge of sacrilege ? for they not only 
do not detest idolatry, being in this respect much worse than these hypo- 
crites, but also greedily seek, like them, sacred offerings, and under the 
pretence of sanctity devour widows' houses, pillage the coffers of kings, 
and, what is most heinous, sacrilegiously rob God of his due worship and 
honour, and transfer them to saints." Yet the world is so blind as not 
to see the real character of such men ! — Ed. 


avowed God as their Lawgiver, and yet had no care to form 
their life according to his rule, they clearly proved that the 
majesty of their God was not so regarded by them, but that 
they easily despised him. In the same manner do they at 
this day dishonour Christ, by transgressing the gospel, who 
prattle idly about its doctrine, while yet they tread it under 
foot by their unbridled and licentious mode of living. 

24. For the name of God, &c. I think this quotation is 
taken from Ezek. xxxvi. 20, rather than from Isaiah lii. 5 ; 
for in Isaiah there are no reproofs given to the people, but 
that chapter in Ezekiel is full of reproofs. But some think 
that it is a proof from the less to the greater, according to 
this import, " Since the Prophet upbraided, not without 
cause, the Jews of his time, that on account of their caj)tiv- 
ity, the glory and power of God were ridiculed among the 
Gentiles, as though he could not have preserved the people, 
whom he had taken under his protection, much more are ye 
a disgrace and dishonour to God, whose religion, being judged 
of by your wicked life, is blasphemed." This view I do not 
reject, but I prefer a simpler one, such as the following, — 
" We see that all the reproaches cast on the people of Israel 
do fall on the name of God ; for as they are counted, and are 
said to be the people of God, his name is as it were engraven 
on their foreheads : it must hence be, that God, whose name 
they assume, is in a manner defamed by men, through their 
wicked conduct." It was then a monstrous thing, that they 
who derived their glory from God should have disgraced his 
holy name ; for it behoved them surely to requite him in a 
different manner. 1 

1 On this remarkable passage Haldane has these very appropriate, just, 
and striking observations, — 

" The Apostle, in these verses, exhibits the most lively image of hypo- 
crisy. Was there ever a more beautiful veil than that under which the 
Jew presents himself? He is a man of confession, of praise, of thanks- 
giving — a man, whose trust is in the law, whose boast is of God, who 
knows his will, who approves of things that are excellent ; a man who calls 
himself a conductor of the blind, a light of those who are in darkness, an 
instructor of the ignorant, a teacher of babes ; a man who directs others, 
who preaches against theft, against adultery, against idolatry, and to sum up 
the whole, a man who glories in the commandments of the Lord. Who 
would not say that this is an angel arrayed in human form — a star de- 
tached from the firmament, and brought nearer to enlighten the earth ? 


25. For circumcision verily pro- 25. Nam circumcisio quidem pro- 
fiteth, if thou keep the law : but if dest, si Legem observes ; quod si 
thou be a breaker of the law, thy transgressor Legis fueris, circum- 
circumcision is made uncircumcision. cisio tua in praaputium versa est. 

26. Therefore, if the uncircumci- 26. Si ergo prseputium justitias 
sion keep the righteousness of the Legis servaverit, nonne prseputium 
law, shall not his uncircumcision be ejus pro circumcisione censebitur ? 
counted for circumcision? 

27. And shall not uncircumcision 27. Et judicabit quod ex natura 
which is by nature, if it fulfil the est prseputium (si Legem servaverit) 
law, judge thee, who by the letter te qui per literam et circumcisionem 
and circumcision dost transgress the transgressor es Legis ? 


28. For he is not a Jew which is 28. Non enim qui est in aperto 
one outwardly ; neither is that cir- Iudaeus est ; nee quse in aperto est 
cumcision which is outward in the circumcisio in came, ea est circum- 
flesh : cisio : 

29. But he is a Jew which is one 29. Seel qui est in occulto Iudaeus ; 
inwardly : and circumcision is that et circumcisio cordis in spiritu non 
of the heart, in the spirit, and not litera ; cujus laus non ex hominibus 
in the letter ; whose praise is not of est sed ex Deo. 

men, but of God. 

25. For circumcision indeed profits, &c. He dissipates by 
anticipation what the Jews might have objected in opposition 
to him in the defence of their own cause : for since circum- 
cision was a symbol of the Lord's covenant, by which he had 
chosen Abraham and his seed as his peculiar people, they 
seemed not to have gloried in vain ; but as they neglected 
what the sign signified, and regarded only the outward form, 
he gives this answer — That they had no reason to lay claim 
to any thing on account of the bare sign. The true charac- 
ter of circumcision was a spiritual promise, which required 
faith : the Jews neglected both, the promise as well as faith. 
Then foolish was their confidence. Hence it is, that he omits 

But observe what is concealed under this mask. It is a man who is him- 
self untaught ; it is a thief, an adulterer, a sacrilegious person ; in one 
word, a wicked man, who continually dishonours God by the transgression 
of his law. Is it possible to imagine a contrast more monstrous than be- 
tween these fair appearances and this awful reality ?" 

No, certainly ; but it is a contrast which still exists, with various mo- 
difications, in many instances. — It ought to be observed, that when the 
author calls the Jew " a man of confession, of praise, of thanksgiving," he 
alludes to the import of the word, Jew, in Hebrew, which is derived from 
a verb, which includes these ideas : and it is supposed by some, that there 
is an allusion in the last words of this chapter, " whose praise," &c, to 
what the name signifies. — Ed. 


to state here the main use of circumcision, and proceeds to 
expose their gross error, as he does in his Epistle to the 
Galatians. And this ought to be carefully noticed ; for if 
he were explaining the whole character and design of cir- 
cumcision, it would have been inconsistent in him not to 
have made mention of grace and free promise : but in both 
instances he spoke according to what the subject he had in 
hand required, and therefore he only discussed that part 
which was controverted. 

They thought that circumcision was of itself sufficient for 
the purpose of obtaining righteousness. Hence, speaking 
according to such an opinion, he gives this reply — That if 
this benefit be expected from circumcision, it is on this con- 
dition, that he who is circumcised, must serve God wholly 
and perfectly. Circumcision then requires perfection. The 
same may be also said of our baptism : when any one confi- 
dently relies on the water of baptism alone, and thinks that 
he is justified, as though he had obtained holiness by that 
ordinance itself, the end of baptism must be adduced as an 
objection ; which is, that the Lord thereby calls us to holi- 
ness of life : the grace and promise, which baptism testifies 
(testificatur) and seals, (obsignat,) need not in this case to be 
mentioned ; for our business is with those who, being satis- 
fied with the enrpty shadow of baptism, care not for nor 
consider what is material (solidum — substantial) in it. And 
this very thing you may observe in Paul — that when he 
speaks to the faithful of signs, apart from controversy, he 
connects them with the efficacy and fulfilment of the pro- 
mises which belong to them ; but when he contends with 
the absurd and unskilful interpreters of signs, he omits all 
mention of the proper and true character of signs, and 
directs his whole discourse against their perverted inter- 

Now many, seeing that Paul brings forward circumcision 
rather than any other part of the law, suppose that he takes 
away justification only from ceremonies : but the matter is 
far otherwise ; for it always happens, that those who dare 
to set up their own merits against the righteousness of God, 
glory more in outward observances than in real goodness ; 


for no one, who is seriously touched and moved by the fear 
of God, will ever dare to raise up his eyes to heaven, since 
the more he strives after true righteousness, the clearer he 
sees how far he is from it. But as to the Pharisees, who 
were satisfied with imitating holiness by an outward dis- 
guise, it is no wonder that they so easily deluded themselves. 
Hence Paul, after having left the Jews nothing, but this poor 
subterfuge of being justified by circumcision, does now also 
take from them even this empty pretence. 

26. If then the uncircumcision, &c. This is a very strong- 
argument. Every thing is below its end and subordinate to 
it. Circumcision looks to the law, and must therefore be 
inferior to it : it is then a greater thing to keep the law 
than circumcision, which was for its sake instituted. It 
hence follows, that the uncircumcised, provided he keeps the 
law, far excels the Jew with his barren and unprofitable 
circumcision, if he be a transgressor of the law : and though 
he is by nature polluted, he shall yet be so sanctified by 
keeping the law, that uncircumcision shall be imputed to 
him for circumcision. The word uncircumcision, is to be 
taken in its proper sense in the second clause ; but in the 
first, figuratively, for the Gentiles, the thing for the per- 

It must be added — that no one ought anxiously to inquire 
what observers of the law are those of which Paul speaks 
here, inasmuch no such can be found ; for he simply intend- 
ed to lay down a supposed case — that if any Gentile could 
be found who kept the law, his righteousness would be of 
more value without circumcision, than the circumcision of 
the Jew without righteousness. And hence I refer what 
follows, And what is by nature uncircumcision shall judge 
thee, &c, not to persons, but to the case that is supposed, 
according to what is said of the Queen of the south, that 
she shall come, &c, (Matt, xii. 42,) and of the men of Nine- 
veh, that they shall rise up in judgment, &c, (Luke xi. 32.) 
For the very words of Paul lead us to this view — " The Gen- 
tile," he says, " being a keeper of the law, shall judge thee, 
who art a transgressor, though he is uncircumcised, and thou 
hast the literal circumcision." 


27. By the letter and circumcision, &c. A construction 1 
which means a literal circumcision. He does not mean that 
they violated the law, because they had the literal circum- 
cision ; but because they continued, though they had the 
outward rite, to neglect the spiritual worship of God, even 
piety, justice, judgment, and truth, which are the chief mat- 
ters of the law. 2 

28. For a Jew is not he, &c. The meaning is, that a real 
Jew is not to be ascertained, either by natural descent, or 
by profession, or by an external symbol; that the circum- 
cision which constitutes a Jew, does not consist in an out- 
ward sign only, but that both are inward. And what he 
subjoins with regard to true circumcision, is taken from 
various passages of Scripture, and even from its general 
teaching ; for the people are everywhere commanded to cir- 
cumcise their hearts, and it is what the Lord promises to do. 
The fore-skin was cut off, not indeed as the small corruption 
of one part, but as that of the whole nature. Circumcision 
then signified the mortification of the whole flesh. 

29. What he then adds, in the spirit, not in Hie letter, un- 
derstand thus : He calls the outward rite, without piety, the 
letter, and the spiritual design of this rite, the spirit; for 

1 Hypallage, substitution, a figure of speech, by which a noun or an ad- 
jective is put in a form different from its obvious import. — Ed. 

2 The rendering of this clause is rather obscure, " who by the letter and 
circumcision dost transgress the law." The preposition, S<«, has no doubt 
the meaning of s»or <rbv, as in some other passages, as in ch. iv. 11, \)t' 
axgoGuiTTicts — in uncircumcision, and in ch. viii. 25, ?*' vto/xovUs — in or with 
patience. Then the version should be, " who, being with, or having, the 
letter and circumcision, dost transgress the law." The " letter" means 
the written law. That this is the meaning is evident from the context. 
Both Grotius and Macknight give the same construction. It is better to 
take " letter," i.e., the law, and " circumcision" separate, than to amalga- 
mate them by a rhetorical figure, as is done by Calvin and others. Hodge 
justly says, that this is " more suited to the context, as nothing is said 
here of spiritual circumcision." 

The word y^dfi/^a, letter, has various meanings — 1. What is commonly 
called letter, the character, Luke xxiii. 38; — 2. What is written, a bond 
or contract, Luke xvi. 6 ; — 3. In the plural, letters, epistles, Acts xxviii. 
21 ; — 4. The written law, as here, and in the plural, the Old Testament 
Scriptures, 2 Tim. iii. 15 ; — 5. What is conveyed by writing, learning, 
John vii. 15 ; Acts xxvi. 24; — and, 6. The outward performance of the 
law, it being written, as opposed to what is spiritual or inward, as in the 
last verse of this chapter, and in 2 Cor. iii. 6. — Ed. 


the whole importance of signs and rites depends on what is 
designed ; when the end in view is not regarded, the letter 
alone remains, which in itself is useless. And the reason for 
this mode of speaking is this, — where the voice of God 
sounds, all that he commands, except it be received by men 
in sincerity of heart, will remain in the letter, that is, in the 
dead writing ; but when it penetrates into the heart, it is 
in a manner transformed into spirit. And there is an 
allusion to the difference between the old and the new 
covenant, which Jeremiah points out in ch. xxxi. 33 ; where 
the Lord declares that his covenant would be firm and per- 
manent when engraven on the inward parts. Paul had also 
the same thing in view in another place, (2 Cor. iii. 6,) where 
he compares the law with the gospel, and calls the former 
" the letter," which is not only dead but killeth ; and the 
latter he signalizes with the title of " spirit." But extremely 
gross has been the folly of those who have deduced a double 
meaning from the " letter/' and allegories from the " spirit." 
Whose praise is not from men, &c. As men fix their eyes 
only on those things which are visible, he denies that we 
ought to be satisfied with what is commendable in the esti- 
mation of men, who are often deceived by outward splen- 
dour ; but that we ought to be satisfied with the all-seeing 
eyes of God, from which the deepest secrets of the heart are 
not hid. He thus again summons hypocrites, who soothe 
themselves with false opinions, to the tribunal of God. 


1. What advantage 1 then hath 1. Qua? igitur prserogativa IucUei, 
the Jew ? or what profit is there of aut quae utilitas circumcisionis ? 
circumcision ? 

2. Much everyway: chiefly, he- 2. Multa per omnem modum ; ac 
cause that unto them were commit- primum quidem, quod illis credita 
ted the oracles of God. sunt oracula Dei. 

1. Though Paul has clearly proved that bare circumcision 

1 " Prserogativa — prerogative," to ir^unrlv, rendered " pre-eminence" by 
Macknight; "prsestantia — superiority" by Beza and Pareus ; and "advan- 
tage" in our version, and by Doddridge and Stuart. — Ed. 


brought nothing to the Jews, yet since he could not deny but 
that there was some difference between the Gentiles and the 
Jews, which by that symbol was sealed to them by the Lord, 
and since it was inconsistent to make a distinction, of which 
God was the author, void and of no moment, it remained for 
him to remove also this objection. It was indeed evident, 
that it was a foolish glorying in which the Jews on this ac- 
count indulged ; yet still a doubt remained as to the design 
of circumcision ; for the Lord would not have appointed it 
had not some benefit been intended. He therefore, by way 
of an objection, asks, what it was that made the Jew supe- 
rior to the Gentile ; and he subjoins a reason for this by 
another question, What is the benefit of circumcision ? For 
this separated the Jews from the common class of men ; it 
was a partition-wall, as Paul calls ceremonies, which kept 
parties asunder. 

2. Much in every way, &c. ; that is, very much. He 
begins here to give the sacrament its own praise ; but he 
concedes not, that on this account the Jews ought to have 
been proud ; for when he teaches that they were sealed by 
the symbol of circumcision, by which they were counted the 
children of God, he does not allow that they became supe- 
rior to others through any merit or worthiness of their own, 
but through the free mercy of God. If then regard be had 
to them as men, he shows that they were on a level with 
others ; but if the favours of God be taken to the account, 
he admits that they possessed what made them more eminent 
than other men. 

First, indeed, because intrusted to them, &c. Some think 
there is here an unfinished period, for he sets down what he 
does not afterwards complete. But the word first seems not 
to me to be a note of number, but means " chiefly" or espe- 
cially, 1 and is to be taken in this sense — " Though it were 
but this one thing, that they have the oracles 2 of God com- 

1 The word ■r^umv is thus used in other places. See Matt. vi. 33 ; Mark 
vii. 27 ; 2 Peter i. 20.— Ed. 

2 Aoyia, oracula, mean, in Greek authors, divine responses. Hesychius 
explains it by SirtpwrK — divine dictates. The word is used four times in 
the New Testament. In Acts vii. 38, it means specifically the law of 
Moses; here it includes the whole of the Old Testament ; in Heb. v. 12, 



mitted to them, it might be deemed sufficient to prove their 
superiority ." And it is worthy of being noticed, that the 
advantage of circumcision is not made to consist in the 
naked sign, but its value is derived from the word ; for Paul 
asks here what benefit the sacrament conferred on the Jews, 
and he answers, that God had deposited with them the trea- 
sure of celestial wisdom. It hence follows, that, apart from 
the word, no excellency remained. By oracles he means 
the covenant which God revealed first to Abraham and to 
his posterity, and afterwards sealed and unfolded by the law 
and the Prophets. 

Now the oracles were committed to them, for the purpose 
of preserving them as long as it pleased the Lord to continue 
his glory among them, and then of publishing them during 
the time of their stewardship through the whole world : they 
were first depositaries, and secondly dispensers. But if this 
benefit was to be so highly esteemed when the Lord favoured 
one nation only with the revelation of his word, we can never 
sufficiently reprobate our ingratitude, who receive his word 
with so much negligence or with so much carelessness, not 
to say disdain. 

3. For what if some did not be- 3. Quid enim si quidem fuerunt 
lieve ? shall their unbelief make the increduli ? num incredulitas eorum 
faith of God without effect ? fidem Dei faciet irritam ? 

4. God forbid: yea, let God be 4. Ne ita sit; qnin sit Deus ve- 
true, but every man a liar ; as it is rax, omnis autem homo mendax ; 
written, That thou mightest be jus- quemadmodum scriptum est, ut jus- 
tified in thy sayings, and mightest tificeris in sermonibus tuis, et vincas 
overcome when thou art judged. quum judicaris. 1 

3. What indeed if some, &c. As before, while regarding 
the Jews as exulting in the naked sign, he allowed them 
no not even a spark of glory ; so now, while considering the 
nature of the sign, he testifies that its virtue (virtutem, effi- 
cacy) is not destroyed, no, not even by their inconstancy. 

and in 1 Peter iv. 11, it embraces the truths of the Gospel. The divine 
character of the Scriptures is by this word attested ; they are the oracles 
of God, his dictates, or communications from him. — Ed. 

1 The references in the margin are the following : — Horn. ix. 6 ; 2 Tim. 
ii. 13 ; John iii. 33 ; Ps. cxvi. 11 ; li. 4. 


As then lie seemed before to have intimated that whatever 
grace there might have been in the sign of circumcision, it 
had wholly vanished through the ingratitude of the Jews, 
he now, anticipating an objection, again asks what opinion 
was to be formed of it. There is here indeed a sort of reti- 
cence, as he expresses less than what he intended to be under- 
stood ; for he might have truly said that a great part of the 
nation had renounced the covenant of God ; but as this 
would have been very grating to the ears of the Jews, he 
mitigated its severity, and mentioned only some. 

Shall their unbelief, &c. Karapjetv is properly to render 
void and ineffectual ; a meaning most suitable to this pas- 
sage. For Paul's inquiry is not so much whether the un- 
belief of men neutralizes the truth of God, so that it should 
not in itself remain firm and constant, but whether it hinders 
its effect and fulfilment as to men. The meaning then is, 
" Since most of the Jews are covenant-breakers, is God's 
covenant so abrogated by their perfidiousness that it brings 
forth no fruit among them ? To this he answers, that it can- 
not be that the truth of God should lose its stability through 
man's wickedness. Though then the greater part had nul- 
lified and trodden under foot God's covenant, it yet retained 
its efficacy and manifested its power, not indeed as to all, 
but with regard to a few of that nation : and it is then effi- 
cacious, when the grace or the blessing of the Lord avails to 
eternal salvation. But this cannot be, except when the pro- 
mise is received by faith ; for it is in this way that a mutual 
covenant is on both sides confirmed. He then means that 
some ever remained in that nation, who by continuing to 
believe in the promise, had not fallen away from the privi- 
leges of the covenant. 

4. But let God be true, &c. Whatever may be the opinion 
of others, I regard this as an argument taken from the 
necessary consequence of what is opposed to it, by which 
Paul invalidates the preceding objection. For since these 
two things stand together, yea, necessarily accord, that God 
is true and that man is false, it follows that the truth of God 
is not nullified by the falsehood of men ; for except he did 
now set these two things in opposition, the one to the other, 


he would afterwards have in vain laboured to refute what 
was absurd, and show how God is just, though he manifests 
his justice by our unjustice. Hence the meaning is by no 
means ambiguous, — that the faithfulness of God is so far 
from being nullified by the perfidy and apostasy of men, 
that it thereby becomes more evident. " God," lie says, " is 
true, not only because he is prepared to stand faithfully to his 
promises, but because he also really fulfils whatever he de- 
clares; for he so speaks, that his command becomes a reality. 
On the other hand, man is false, not only because he often 
violates his pledged faith, but because he naturally seeks 
falsehood and shuns the truth." 

The first clause contains the primary axiom of all Christian 
philosophy; the latter is taken from Ps. cxvi. 11, where 
David confesses that there is nothing certain from man or 
in man. 

Now this is a remarkable passage, and contains a conso- 
lation that is much needed ; for such is the perversity of 
men in rejecting and despising God's word, that its truth 
would be often doubted were not this to come to our minds, 
that God's verity depends not on man's verity. But how 
does this agree with what has been said previously — that in 
order to make the divine promise effectual, faith, which re- 
ceives it, is on the part of men necessary? for faith stands 
opposed to falsehood. This seems, indeed, to be a difficult 
question ; but it may with no great difficulty be answered, 
and in this way — the Lord, notwithstanding the lies of men, 
and though these are hinderances to his truth, does yet find 
a way for it through a pathless track, that he may come 
forth a conqueror, and that is, by correcting in his elect the 
inbred unbelief of our nature, and by subjecting to his ser- 
vice those who seem to be unconquerable. It must be added, 
that the discourse here is concerning the corruption of na- 
ture, and not the grace of God, which is the remedy for that 

That thou mightest he justified, &c. The sense is, So far is 
it that the truth of God is destroyed by our falsehood and 
unfaithfulness, that it thereby shines forth and appears more 
evident, according to the testimony of David, who says, that 


as lie was a sinner, God was a just and righteous Judge in 
whatever he determined respecting him, and that he would 
overcome all the calumnies of the ungodly who murmured 
against his righteousness. By the words of God, David 
means the judgments which he pronounces upon us ; for the 
common application of these to promises is too strained : 
and so the particle that, is not so much final, nor refers to a 
far-fetched consequence, but implies an inference according 
to this purport, " Against thee have I sinned ; justly then 
dost thou punish me." And that Paul has quoted this 
passage according to the proper and real meaning of David, 
is clear from the objection that is immediately added, "How 
shall the righteousness of God remain perfect if our iniquity 
illustrates it ?" For in vain, as I have already observed, and 
unseasonably has Paul arrested the attention of his readers 
with this difficulty, except David meant, that God, in his 
wonderful providence, elicited from the sins of men a praise 
to his own righteousness. The second clause in Hebrew is 
this, " And that thou mightest be pure in thy judgment " 
which expression imports nothing else but that God in all 
his judgments is worthy of praise, how much soever the un- 
godly may clamour and strive by their complaints disgrace- 
fully to efface his glory. But Paul has followed the Greek 
version, which answered his purpose here even better. We 
indeed know that the Apostles in quoting Scripture often 
used a freer language than the original ; for they counted it 
enough to quote what was suitable to their subject : hence 
they made no great account of words. 

The application then of this passage is the following : 
Since all the sins .of mortals must serve to illustrate the 
glory of the Lord, and since he is especially glorified by his 
truth, it follows, that even the falsehood of men serves to 
confirm rather than to subvert his truth. Though the word 
tcpiveadai, may be taken actively as well as passively, yet the 
Greek translators, I have no doubt, rendered it passively, 
contrary to the meaning of the Prophet. 1 

1 Whenever there is a material agreement between the Greek and the 
Hebrew, we ought not to make it otherwise. If the verb K^Uar6ai, as ad- 
mitted by most critics, may be taken actively, and be thus made to agree 


5. But if our unrighteousness com- 5. Quod si injustitia nostra Dei 
mend the righteousness of God, what justitiam commendat, quid dice- 
shall we say? Is God unrighteous mus? num injustus est Deus qui 
who taketh vengeance ? (I speak as infert iram ? Secundum hominem 
a man) dico. 

6. God forbid: for then how shall 6. Ne ita sit : nam quomodo ju- 
God judge the world ? dicabit Deus mundum ? 

7. For if the truth of God hath 7. Si enim Veritas Dei per meum 
more abounded through my lie unto mendacium excelluit in ejus gloriam; 
his glory ? why yet am I also judged quid etiamnum et ego velut peccator 
as a sinner ? judicor ; 

8. And not rather, (as Ave be slan- 8. Et non (quemadmodum expro- 
derously reported, and as some affirm bratur nobis, et quemadmodum ai- 
tliat we say,) Let us do evil, that unt quidam nos dicere) Faciamus 
good may come ? whose damnation mala, ut veniant bona ? quorum ju- 
is just. dicium justuru est. 

5. But if our unrighteousness, &c. Though this is a di- 
gression from the main subject, it was yet necessary for the 
Apostle to introduce it, lest he should seem to give to the 
ill-disposed an occasion to speak evil, which he knew would 
be readily laid hold on by them. For since they were watch- 
ing for every opportunity to defame the gospel, they had, in 
the testimony of David, what they might have taken for the 
purpose of founding a calumny, — " If God seeks nothing 

with the Hebrew, what reason can there be to take it in another sense ? 
The only real difference is in one word, between vixfons, " overcomest," and 
["DTD, " art clear :" but the meaning is the same, though the words are 
different. To overcome in judgment, and to be clear in judgment, amounts 
to the same thing. The parallelism of the Hebrew requires x^W4«/ to be 
a verb in the middle voice, and to have an active meaning. The two lines 
in Hebrew, as it is often the case in Hebrew poetry, contain the same 
sentiment in different words, the last line expressing it more definitely; so 
that to be " justified," and to be " cleared," convey the same idea ; and 
also " in thy word," or saying — -p2*n, and " in thy judgment" — "pSt^S. 
In many copies both these last words are in the plural number, so that the 
first would be strictly what is here expressed, " in thy words," that is, the 
words which thou hast declared ; and " in thy judgments," that is, those 
which thou hast announced, would be fully rendered by " when thou 

Commentators, both ancient and modern, have differed on the meaning 
of the verb in question. Parens, Beza, Macknight, and Stuart, take it in 
an active sense ; while Erasmus, Grotius, Venema, and others, contend 
for the passive meaning. Drusius, Hammond, and Doddridge render it, 
" when thou contendest in judgment," or, " when thou art called to judg- 
ment :" and such a meaning no doubt the verb has according to Matt. v. 
40, and 1 Cor. vi. 1, 6. But in this case regard must be had especially 
to the meaning which corresponds the nearest with the original Hebrew. 
Some have maintained that " in thy judgment" — "pQtiO, may be rendered 
'• in judging thee ;" but this would not only be unusual and make the sen- 


else, but to be glorified by men, why does he punish them, 
when they offend, since by offending they glorify him ? 
Without cause then surely is he offended, if he derives the 
reason of his displeasure from that by which he is glorified." 
There is, indeed, no doubt, but that this was an ordinary, 
and everywhere a common calumny, as it will presently ap- 
pear. Hence Paul could not have covertly passed it by ; 
but that no one should think that he expressed the senti- 
ments of his own mind, he premises that he assumes the 
person of the ungodly ; and at the same time, he sharply 
touches, by a single expression, on human reason ; whose 
work, as he intimates, is ever to bark against the wisdom of 
God ; for he says not, " according to the ungodly," but " ac- 
cording to man," or as man. And thus indeed it is, for all 
the mysteries of God are paradoxes to the flesh : and at the 
same time it possesses so much audacity, that it fears not to 
oppose them, and insolently to assail what it cannot com- 
prehend. We are hence reminded, that if we desire to be- 
come capable of understanding them, we must especially 
labour to become freed from our own reason, (proprio sensu,) 
and to give up ourselves, and unreservedly to submit to his 

tence hardly intelligible, but also destroy the evident parallelism of the 
two lines. The whole verse may be thus literally rendered from the 
Hebrew, — 

Against thee, against thee only have I sinned ; 

And the evil before thine eyes have I done ; 

So that thou art justified in thy words, 

And clear in thy judgments. 

The conjunction \VQ?, admits of being rendered so that ; see Ps. xxx. 12 ; 
Is. xli. 20 ; Amos ii. 7 ; and o*a>s in many instances may be thus rendered ; 
see Luke ii. 35 ; Philem. 6 ; 1 Pet. ii. 9. It is what Schleusner designates 
\x.£o.tix.u>s, signifying the issue or the event. 

Parens connects the passage differently. He considers the former part 
of the verse parenthetic, or as specifying what is generally stated in the 
previous verse, the third ; and with that verse he connects this passage : 
so that the rendering of the two verses would be the following, — 

3. For my transgression I acknowledge, 
And my sin is before me continually, — 

4. (Against thee, against thee only have I sinned, 
And the evil before thine eyes have I done,) 
That thou mightest be justified in thy saying, 
And clear in thy judgment. 

This is certainly more probable than what Vatablus and Houbigant pro- 
pose, who connect the passage with the second verse, " Wash me thorough- 
ly," &c. But the sense given by Calvin is the most satisfactory. — Ed. 


word. — The word wrath, taken here for judgment, refers 
to punishment ; as though he said, " Is God unjust, who 
punishes those sins which set forth his righteousness f 

6. By no means, &c. In checking this blasphemy he gives 
not a direct reply to the objection, but begins with express- 
ing his abhorrence of it, lest the Christian religion should 
even appear to include absurdities so great. And this is 
more weighty than if he adopted a simple denial ; for he im- 
plies, that this impious expression deserved to be regarded 
with horror, and not to be heard. He presently subjoins 
what may be called an indirect refutation ; for he does not 
distinctly refute the calumny, but gives only this reply, — 
that the objection was absurd. Moreover, he takes an argu- 
ment from an office which belongs to God, by which he 
proves it to be impossible, — God shall judge the world ; he 
cannot then be unjust. 

This argument is not derived, so to speak, from the mere 
power of God, but from his exercised power, which shines 
forth in the whole arrangement and order of his works ; as 
though he said, — "It is God's work to judge the world, that 
is, to rectify it by his own righteousness, and to reduce to the 
best order whatever there is in it out of order : he cannot 
then determine any thing unjustly." And he seems to al- 
lude to a passage recorded by Moses, in Gen. xviii. 25, where 
it is said, that when Abraham prayed God not to deliver 
Sodom wholly to destruction, he spoke to this purpose, — " It 
is not meet, that thou who art to judge the earth, shouldest 
destroy the just with the ungodly : for this is not thy work, 
nor-can it be done by thee." A similar declaration is found 
in Job xxxiv. 17, — "Should he who hates judgment exer- 
cise power ?" For though there are found among men un- 
just judges, yet this happens, because they usurp authority 
contrary to law and right, or because they are inconsiderately 
raised to that eminence, or because they degenerate from 
themselves. But there is nothing of this kind with regard 
to God. Since, then, he is by nature judge, it must be that 
he is just, for he cannot deny himself. Paul then proves 
from what is impossible, that God is absurdly accused of un- 
righteousness ; for to him peculiarly and naturally belongs 


the work of justly governing the world. And though what 
Paul teaches extends to the constant government of God, 
yet I allow that it has a special reference to the last judg- 
ment ; for then only a real restoration of just order will take 
place. But if you wish for a direct refutation, by which pro- 
fane things of this kind may be checked, take this, and 
say, " That it comes not through what unrighteousness is, 
that God's righteousness becomes more illustrious, but that 
our wickedness is so surpassed by God's goodness, that it is 
turned to serve an end different from that to which it 

7. If indeed 1 the truth of God, &c. This objection, I have 
no doubt, is adduced in the person of the ungodly ; for it is 
a sort of an explanation of the former verse, and would have 
been connected with it, had not the Apostle, moved with indig- 
nation, broken off the sentence in the middle. The meaning 
of the objection is, — " If by our unfaithfulness the truth of 
God becomes more conspicuous, and in a manner confirmed, 
and hence more glory redounds to him, it is by no means 
just, that he, who serves to display God's glory, should be 
punished as a sinner." 2 

8. And not, &c. This is an elliptical sentence, in which 
a word is to be understood. It will be complete, if you read 
it thus, — "and why is it not rather said, (as we are re- 
proached, &c.) that we are to do evils, that good things may 

1 Or, " For if" — Si enim — u ya^. The particle y«£ here gives no reason, 
but is to be viewed as meaning then, or indeed, verily ; see Luke xii. 58 ; 
John ix. 30; Acts xvi. 37; Phil. ii. 27. Stuart renders it, still, and says, 
that it " points to a connection with ver. 5, and denotes a continuance of 
the same theme." Macknight often renders it hy fur titer, besides, and no 
doubt rightly. — Ed. 

2 It is remarkable how the Apostle changes his words from the third 
verse to the end of this, while the same things are essentially meant. His 
style is throughout Hebraistic. Stuart makes these just remarks, " 'Ahxla 
is here [ver. 5] the generic appellation of sin, for which a specific name, 
uiritrriu, was employed in ver. 3, and -^tvo-pa, in ver. 7. In like manner the 
^ixamtruii)}, in ver. 5, which is a generic appellation, is expressed by a specific 
one, irwTiv. in ver. 3, and by uXyfaia, in ver. 7. The idea is substantially 
the same, which is designated by these respectively corresponding appella- 
tions. Fidelity, uprightness, integrity, are designated by trie™, hxxieeuin^ 
and dxrihia ; while uvHrria., alixla, and ^ivtrju-aTi, designate unfaithfulness, 
want of uprightness, and false dealing. All of these terms have more or 
less reference to the TTH3, covenant or compact (so to speak) which existed 
between God and his ancient people." — Ed. 


come 1" But the Apostle deigns not to answer the slander ; 
which yet we may check by the most solid reason. The pre- 
tence, indeed, is this, — " If God is by our iniquity glorified, 
and if nothing can be done by man in this life more befit- 
ting than to promote the glory of God, then let us sin to ad- 
vance his glory I" Now the answer to this is evident, — 
" That evil cannot of itself produce any thing but evil ; and 
that God's glory is through our sin illustrated, is not the 
work of man, but the work of God ; who, as a wonderful 
worker, knows how to overcome our wickedness, and to con- 
vert it to another end, so as to turn it contrary to what we 
intend, to the promotion of his own glory." God has pre- 
scribed to us the way, by which he would have himself to be 
glorified by us, even by true piety, which consists in obe- 
dience to his word. He who leaps over this boundary, strives 
not to honour God, but to dishonour him. That it turns out 
otherwise, is to be ascribed to the Providence of God, and 
not to the wickedness of man ; through which it comes not, 
that the majesty of God is not injured, nay, wholly over- 
thrown. 1 

(As we are reproached,) &c. Since Paul speaks so reve- 
rently of the secret judgments of God, it is a wonder that 
his enemies should have fallen into such wantonness as to 
calumniate him : but there has never been so much reverence 
and seriousness displayed by God's servants as to be suffi- 
cient to check impure and virulent tongues. It is not then 
a new thing, that adversaries at this day load with so many 
false accusations, and render odious our doctrine, which we 
ourselves know to be the pure gospel of Christ, and all the 
angels, as well as the faithful, are our witnesses. Nothing 
can be imagined more monstrous than what we read here 
was laid to the charge of Paul, to the end, that his preach- 

1 Orotius thinks, that in the beginning of this verse there is a transpo- 
sition, and that on, after the parenthesis, ought to be construed before 
fih which precedes it, and that ?« is for cur, why, — as in Mark ix. 11, and 
28. The version would then be, " and why not, (as we are reproached, 
and as some declare that we say,) Let us do evil that good may come ?" 
This is the rendering of Luther. But Limborch and Stuart consider xiya- 
/*iv to be understood after pb ; and the latter takes pn, not as a negative, 
but an interrogative, " and shall we say," &c. ? Amidst these varieties, the 
main drift of the passage remains the same. — Ed. 


ing might be rendered hateful to the inexperienced. Let us 
then bear this evil, when the ungodly abuse the truth which 
we preach by their calumnies : nor let us cease, on this 
account, constantly to defend the genuine confession of it, 
inasmuch as it has sufficient power to crush and to dissipate 
their falsehoods. Let us, at the same time, according to 
the Apostle's example, oppose, as much as we can, all mali- 
cious subtilties, (technis — crafts, wiles,) that the base and the 
abandoned may not, without some check, speak evil of our 

Whose, judgment is just. Some take this in an active 
sense, as signifying that Paul so far assents to them, that 
what they objected was absurd, in order that the doctrine of 
the gospel might not be thought to be connected with such 
paradoxes : but I approve more of the passive meaning ; for 
it would not have been suitable simply to express an approval 
of such a wickedness, which, on the contrary, deserved to be 
severely condemned ; and this is what Paul seems to me to 
have done. And their perverseness was, on two accounts, 
to be condemned, — first, because this impiety had gained the 
assent of their minds ; and secondly, because, in traducing 
the gospel, they dared to draw from it their calumny. 

9. What then ? are we better than 9. Quid ergo ? praecellimus P 1 Ne- 

they f No. in no wise : for we have quaquam : ante enim constituimus 

before proved both Jews and Gen- tarn Judseos quam Greecos, omnes 

tiles, that they are all under sin. sub peccato esse. 

9. What then ? He returns from his digression to his 
subject. For lest the Jews should object that they were de- 
prived of their right, as he had mentioned those distinctions 
of honour, for which they thought themselves superior to the 
Gentiles, he now at length replies to the question — in what 

1 " Praecellimus ?" ^ai%ifitia ; " Have we the advantage ?" Doddridge ; 
" Do we excel ?" Macknight ; " Have we any preference ?" Stuart. It is 
thus paraphrased by Theodoret, ri oli xaTixoy-ti ■ffi^sabv — « What advan- 
tage, then, have we ?" " Prsecellimus " is the rendering of Erasmus, Pa- 
rens, and Beza. Venema says, that this verb, in the active voice only, 
has this meaning in Greek authors ; but the context can allow it no other 
sense here. Wetstein indeed gives it a passive meaning, " an antecellimur 
— are we surpassed ?" but it can hardly comport with the drift of the 
passage. — Ed. 


respect they excelled the Gentiles. And though his answer 
seems in appearance to militate against what he had said 
before, (for he now strips those of all dignity to whom he 
had attributed so much,) there is yet no discord ; for those 
privileges in which he allowed them to be eminent, were 
separate from themselves, and dependent on God's goodness, 
and not on their own merit : but here he makes inquiry as 
to their own worthiness, whether they could glory in any 
respect in themselves. Hence the two answers he gives so 
agree together, that the one follows from the other ; for 
while he extols their privileges, by including them among 
the free benefits of God, he shows that they had nothing of 
their own. Hence, what he now answers might have been 
easily inferred ; for since it was their chief superiority, that 
God's oracles were deposited with them, and they had it not 
through their own merit, there was nothing left for them, on 
account of which they could glory before God. Now mark 
the holy contrivance {sanctum artificium) which he adopts ; 
for when he ascribes pre-eminency to them, he speaks in the 
third person ; but when he strips them of all things, he puts 
himself among them, that he might avoid giving offence. 

For we have before brought a charge, &c. The Greek verb 
which Paul adopts, alrtdcrdai, is properly a forensic term ; and 
I have therefore preferred to render it, " We have brought a 
charge;" 1 for an accuser in an action is said to charge a 
crime, which he is prepared to substantiate by testimonies 
and other proofs. Now the Apostle had summoned all man- 
kind universally before the tribunal of God, that he might 
include all under the same condemnation : and it is to no 
purpose for any one to object, and say that the Apostle here 
not only brings a charge, but more especially proves it ; for 
a charge is not true except it depends on solid and strong 
evidences, according to what Cicero says, who, in a certain 
place, distinguishes between a charge and a slander. "We 

1 So do Grothts, Beza, and Stuart render the verb. Doddridge and 
Machnight have preserved our common version. " We have before 
charged," Chalmers. " Antea idoneis argumentis demonstravimus — we 
have before proved by sufficient arguments," Scldcusner. It is charge 
rather than conviction that the verb imports, though the latter idea is also 
considered to be included. — Ed. 

CHAP. III. 10. 



must add, that to be under sin means that we are justly con- 
demned as sinners before God, or that we are held under the 
curse which is due to sin ; for as righteousness brings with 
it absolution, so sin is followed by condemnation. 

10. As it is written, There is none 
righteous, no, not one : 

11. There is none that under- 
standeth, there is none that seeketh 
after God. 

12. They are all gone out of the 
way, they are together become un- 
profitable ; there is none that doeth 
good, no, not one. 

13. Their throat is an open sepul- 
chre : with their tongues they have 
used deceit : the poison of asps is 
under their lips : 

14. Whose mouth is full of curs- 
ing and bitterness : 

15. Their feet are swift to shed 
blood : 

16. Destruction and misery are in 
their ways : 

17. And the way of peace have 
they not known : 

18. There is no fear of God be- 
fore their eyes. 

10. Sicut scriptum, Quod non est 
Justus quisquam, ne unus quidem ; 

11. Non est intelligens, non est 
qui requirat Deum ; 

12. Omnes declinarunt, simul facti 
sunt inutiles ; non est qui exerceat 
benignitatem, ne ad unum quidem : 

13. Sepulchrum apertum guttur 
eorum : linguis dolose egerunt : ve- 
nenum aspidum sub labiis eorum : 

14. Quorum os execratione et 

amarulentia plenum : 

15. Veloces pedes eorum ad effun- 
dendum sanguinem ; 

16. Contritio et calamitas in viis 
eorum ; 

17. Et viam pacis non noverunt: 

18. Non est timor Dei prse oculis 
eorum. 1 

10. As it is written, &c. He has hitherto used proofs or 
arguments to convince men of their iniquity ; he now be- 
gins to reason from authority ; and it is to Christians the 
strongest kind of proof, when authority is derived from the 
only true Grod. And hence let ecclesiastical teachers learn 
Avhat their office is ; for since Paul asserts here no truth but 
what he confirms by the sure testimony of Scripture, much 
less ought such a thing to be attempted by those, who have 
no other commission but to preach the gospel, which they 
have received through Paul and others. 

There is none righteous, &c. The Apostle, who gives the 
meaning rather than the entire words, seems, in the first 
place, before he comes to particulars, to state generally the 
substance of what the Prophet declares to be in man, and 

1 The references given in the margin are these, — Ps. xiv. 1-3 ; liii. 3 
v. 9 ; xiv. 3 ; ix. 7 ; Is. lvi. 7 ; Prov. i. 16 ; Ps. xxxvi. 1. 


that is — that none is righteous .- 1 he afterwards particularly 
enumerates the effects or fruits of this unrighteousness. 

11. The first effect is, that there is none that understands : 
and then this ignorance is immediately proved, for they 
seek not God ; for empty is the man in whom there is not 
the knowledge of God, whatever other learning he may pos- 
sess ; yea, the sciences and the arts, which in themselves are 
good, are empty things, when they are without this ground- 

12. It is added, 2 There is no one who doeth kindness. By 
this we are to understand, that they had put off every feel- 
ing of humanity. For as the best bond of mutual concord 
among us is the knowledge of God, (as he is the common 
Father of all, he wonderfully unites us, and without him 
there is nothing but disunion,) so inhumanity commonly 
follows where there is ignorance of God, as every one, when 
he despises others, loves and seeks his own good. 

13. It is further added, Their throat is an open grave ; 3 
that is, a gulf to swallow up men. It is more than if he had 
said, that they were devourers (avOpwirofydyovs — men-eaters;) 

1 Ps. xiv. 1. The Hebrew is, " There is none that doeth good;" and 
the Septuagint, " There is none doing kindness, {xi' / " r ' r ' 6 ' rr ' Ta )i there is 
not even one, {'oux, 'ia-nv 'ia; \vos.y So that the Apostle quotes the meaning, 
not the words. 

The eleventh verse is from the same Psalm ; the Hebrew, with which the 
Septuagint agree, except that there is the disjunctive n between the parti- 
ciples, is the following, — " Whether there is any one who understands, who 
seeks after God." — Ed. 

2 This verse is literally the Septuagint, and as to meaning, a correct 
version of the Hebrew. "All have gone out of the way — ■ravrt; IZ'ixXivuv," 
is in Hebrew "ID ?DH, " the whole (or every one) has turned aside," or 
revolted, or apostatized. Then, " they have become unprofitable" or 
useless, is IHP&O, " they are become putrid," or corrupted, like putrified 
fruit or meat, therefore useless, not fit for what they were designed — to 
serve God and to promote their own and the good of others. Idolatry 
was evidently this putrescence. — Ed. 

8 This is from Ps. v. 9, that is, the first part, and is literally the Septu- 
agint, which correctly represents the Hebrew. The last clause is from 
Ps. cxl. 3, and is according to the Septuagint, and the Hebrew, too, ex- 
cept that " asps," or adders, is in the singular number. Stuart gives the 
import of this figurative language different from Calvin : " As from the 
sepulchre," he says, " issues forth an offensive and pestilential vapour ; so 
from the mouths of slanderous persons issue noisome and pestilential 
words. Their words are like poison, they utter the poisonous breath of 
slander." — Ed. 


for it is an intimation of extreme barbarity, when the throat 
is said to be so great a gulf, that it is sufficient to swallow 
down and devour men whole and entire. Their tongues are 
deceitful, and, the poison of asps is under their lips, import 
the same thing. 

1 4. Then he says, that their mouth is full of cursing and 
bitterness^ — a vice of an opposite character to the former ; 
but the meaning is, that they are in every way full of wick- 
edness ; for if they speak fair, they deceive and blend poison 
with their flatteries ; but if they draw forth what they have 
in their hearts, bitterness and cursing stream out. 

16. Very striking is the sentence that is added from 
Isaiah, Ruin and misery are in all their ways ; 2 for it is a 
representation of ferociousness above measure barbarous, 
which produces solitude and waste by destroying every thing 
wherever it prevails : it is the same as the description which 
Pliny gives of Domitian. 

17. It follows, The way of peace they have not known: 
they are so habituated to plunders, acts of violence and 
wrong, to savageness and cruelty, that they know not how 
to act kindly and courteously. 

18. In the last clause 3 he repeats again, in other words, 

1 Ps. x. 7. Paul corrects the order of the words as found in the Sep- 
tuagint, and gives the Hebrew more exactly ; but retains the word " bit- 
terness," by which the Septuagint have rendered niCID, which means de- 
ceit, or rather, mischievous deceit. Some think that it ought to be JTfntO, 
" bitterness ;" but there is no copy in its favour. — Ed. 

2 The 15th, 16th, and 17th verses are taken from Isaiah lix. 7, 8. Both 
the Hebrew and the Septuagint are alike, but Paul has abbreviated them, 
and changed two words in the Greek version, having put oJ-s/V for «•«£««), 
and 'iyvurav for hihatrt, and has followed that version in leaving out " inno- 
cent " before " blood." — Ed. 

3 It is taken from Ps. xxxvi. 1, and verbatim from the Greek version, 
and strictly in accordance with the Hebrew. It is evident from several of 
these quotations, that Paul's object, as Calvin says, was to represent the 
general meaning, and not to keep strictly to the expressions. 

There is a difference of opinion as to the precise object of the Apostle ; 
whether in these quotations he had regard to the Jews only, or to both 
Jews and Gentiles. In the introduction, verse 8, he mentions both, and 
in the conclusion, verse 19, he evidently refers to both, in these words, 
" that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty 
before God." 

The most consistent view seems to be, that the passages quoted refer 
both to Jews and Gentiles ; the last, more especially, to the Jews, while 


what Ave have noticed at the beginning — that every wicked- 
ness flows from a disregard of God : for as the principal part 
of wisdom is the fear of God, when we depart from that, 
there remains in us nothing right or pure. In short, as it is 
a bridle to restrain our wickedness, so when it is wanting, 
we feel at liberty to indulge every kind of licentiousness. 

And that these testimonies may not seem to any one to 
have been unfitly produced, let us consider each of them in 
connection with the passages from which they have been 
taken. David says in Ps. xiv. 1, that there was such per- 
verseness in men, that God, when looking on them all in 
their different conditions, could not find a righteous man, 
no, not one. It then follows, that this evil pervaded man- 
kind universally ; for nothing is hid from the sight of God. 
He speaks indeed at the end of the Psalm of the redemp- 
tion of Israel : but we shall presently show how men become 
holy, and how far they are exempt from this condition. In 
the other Psalms he speaks of the treachery of his enemies, 
while he was exhibiting in himself and in his descendants a 
type of the kingdom of Christ : hence we have in his adver- 
saries the representatives of all those, who being alienated 
from Christ, are not led by his Spirit. Isaiah expressly 
mentions Israel ; and therefore his charge applies with still 
greater force against the Gentiles. What, then ? There is 
no doubt but that the character of men is described in those 
words, in order that we may see what man is when left to 
himself; for Scripture testifies that all men are in this state, 
who are not regenerated by the grace of God. The condi- 
tion of the saints would be nothing better, were not this de- 
pravity corrected in them : and that they may still remem- 
ber that they differ nothing from others by nature, they do 
find in the relics of their flesh (by which they are always 
encompassed) the seeds of those evils, which would con- 
stantly produce fruits, were they not prevented by being 
mortified ; and for this mortification they are indebted to 
God's mercy and not to their own nature. We may add, 

some of the preceding have a special reference to the Gentile world, par- 
ticularly Ps. xiv., as it describes the character of the enemies of God and 
his people, to whose liberation the Psalmist refers in the last verse. — Ed. 


that though all the vices here enumerated are not found 
conspicuously in every individual, yet they may be justly 
and truly ascribed to human nature, as we have already ob- 
served on chap. i. 26. 

19. Now we know, that what 19. Scimus autcm quod quse- 
things soever the law saith, it saith cunque Lex elicit, iis qui in Lege 
to them who are under the law ; sunt loquitur ; ut omne os obstrua- 
that every mouth may be stopped, tur, et obnoxius fiat omnis mundus 
and all the world may become guilty Deo. 1 

before God. 

20. Therefore by the deeds of the 20. Quoniam ex operibus Legis 
law there shall no flesh be justified non justificabitur omnis caro coram 
in his sight : for by the law is the ipso ; per Legem enim agnitio pec- 
knowledge of sin. cati. 

19. Now we knoiu, &c. Leaving the Gentiles, he dis- 
tinctly addresses his words to the Jews ; for he had a much 
more difficult work in subduing them, because they, though 
no less destitute of true righteousness than the Gentiles, yet 
covered themselves with the cloak of God's covenant, as 
though it was a sufficient holiness to them to have been 
separated from the rest of the world by the election of God. 
And he indeed mentions those evasions, which he well under- 
stood the Jews were ready to bring forward ; for whatever 
was said in the law unfavourably of mankind, they usually 
applied to the Gentiles, as though they were exempt from 
the common condition of men, and no doubt they would have 
been so, had they not fallen from their own dignity. Hence, 
that no false conceit as to their own worthiness should be a 
hinderance to them, and that they might not confine to the 
Gentiles alone what applied to them in common with others, 
Paul here anticipates them, and shows, from what Scripture 
declares, that they were not only blended with the multitude, 
but that condemnation was peculiarly denounced on them. 
And we indeed see the discretion of the Apostle in under- 

1 Obnoxius Deo — u<xq%i K o$ . . rZ fo£ ; " Obnoxius condemnation! Dei — 
subject to the condemnation of God," Beza ; " Liable to punishment before 
God," Machnight ; " Stand convicted before God," Doddridge. The word 
means to be " under sentence" or under condemnation, and thus " to God," 
i.e., before God. Tillotson gives this paraphrase, "Liable to the Divine 
justice." It may be rendered " condemned before God." The meaning 
is that the world is under condemnation. — Ed. 


taking to refute these objections ; for to whom but to the 
Jews had the law been given, and to whose instruction but 
theirs ought it to have served ? What then it states respect- 
ing others is as it were accidental ; or as they say, 7rdpepyov, 
an appendage ; but it applies its teaching mainly to its own 

Under the law. He says that the Jews were those to whom 
the law was destined, it hence follows, that it especially re- 
gards them ; and under the word law he includes also the 
Prophets, and so the whole of the Old Testament. — That every 
mouth may be stopped, &c. ; that is, that every evasion may 
be cut off, and every occasion for excuse. It is a metaphor 
taken from courts of law, where the accused, if he has any- 
thing to plead as a lawful defence, demands leave to speak, 
that he might clear himself from the things laid to his charge ; 
but if he is convicted by his own conscience, he is silent, and 
without saying a word waits for his condemnation, being- 
even already by his own silence condemned. Of the same 
meaning is this saying in Job xl. 4, " I will lay my hand on 
my mouth." He indeed says, that though he was not alto- 
gether without some kind of excuse, he would yet cease to 
justify himself, and submit to the sentence of God. The 
next clause contains the explanation ; for his mouth is 
stopped, who is so fast held by the sentence of condemnation, 
that he can by no means escape. According to another 
sense, to be silent before the Lord is to tremble at his ma- 
jesty, and to stand mute, being astonished at his bright- 
ness. 1 

20. Therefore by the works of the law, &c. It is a matter 
of doubt, even among the learned, what the works of the law 
mean. Some extend them to the observance of the whole 
law, while others confine them to the ceremonies alone. 

1 To see the force and meaning of this verse, we must bear in mind that 
the former part was said to prevent the Jews from evading the application 
of the preceding testimonies ; and then the words " that every mouth," 
&c, and "that all the world," &c, were added, not so much to include 
the Gentiles, as to include the Jews, who thought themselves exempted. 
No doubt the Gentiles are included, but the special object of the Apostle 
evidently seems to prevent the Jews from supposing that they were not 
included. In no other way can the connection between the two parts of 
the verse be understood. — Ed. 


The addition of the word law induced Chrysostom, Origen, 
and Jerome to assent to the latter opinion ; x for they thought 
that there is a peculiar intimation in this appendage, that 
the expression should not be understood as including all 
works. But this difficulty may be very easily removed : for 
seeing works are so far just before God as we seek by them 
to render to him worship and obedience, in order expressly 
to take away the power of justifying from all works, he has 
mentioned those, if there be any, which can possibly justify ; 
for the law hath promises, without which there would be no 
value in our works before God. You hence see the reason 
why Paul expressly mentioned the works. of the law ; for it 
is by the laAv that a reward is apportioned to works. Nor 
was this unknown to the schoolmen, who held it as an ap- 
proved and common maxim, that works have no intrinsic 
worthiness, but become meritorious by covenant. And 
though they were mistaken, inasmuch as they saw not that 
works are ever polluted with vices, which deprive them of 
any merit, yet this principle is still true, that the reward for 
works depends on the free promise of the law. Wisely then 
and rightly does Paul speak here ; for he speaks not of 
mere works, but distinctly and expressly refers to the keep- 
ing of the law, the subject which he is discussing. 2 

1 The original is " ut in priorem opinionem concederent :" but the con- 
text shows clearly that " priorem " is a misprint for " posteriorem." In 
addition to the authors mentioned here may be added Ambrose, Theodoret, 
Pelagius, Erasmus, and Grotius. And yet, notwithstanding all those 
authorities, the opinion referred to is wholly inconsistent with the reason- 
ing of the Apostle here and throughout the whole Epistle. It has indeed 
been given up as untenable by modern authors of the same school, such as 
Locke, Whitby, and Macknight. 

To disprove this notion it is sufficient to notice the sins which the 
Apostle had referred to ; they are not those against the ceremonial but the 
moral law, and it is because the moral law is transgressed that it cannot 

" If there be any law which man has perfectly kept, he may doubtless 
be justified by it ; and surely no man can be justified by a law which con- 
demns him for breaking it. But there is no law of God which any man 
has kept ; therefore no law by the deeds of which a man can be justified. 
The Gentile broke the law of his reason and conscience ; the Jew broke 
the moral law ; and even the attempt to justify himself by observing the 
ceremonial law, contradicted the very nature and intent of it." — Scott. 

2 The argument and the reasoning of the Apostle seem to require that 
lg 'i^yuv lifAov should be rendered here literally, " by works of law," without 
the article, as the word " law " seems here, according to the drift of the 


As to those things which have been adduced by learned 
men in defence of this opinion, they are weaker than they 
might have been. They think that by mentioning circum- 
cision, an example is propounded, which belonged to cere- 
monies only: but why Paul mentioned circumcision, we 
have alredy explained ; for none swell more with confidence 
in works than hypocrites, and we know that they glory only 
in external masks ; and then circumcision, according to 
their view, was a sort of initiation into the righteousness of 
the law ; and hence it seemed to them a work of primary 
excellence, and indeed the basis as it were of the righteous- 
ness of works. — They also allege what is said in the Epistle 
to the Galatians, where Paul handles the same subject, and 
refers to ceremonies only ; but that also is not sufficiently 
strong to support what they wish to defend. It is certain that 
Paul had a controversy with, those who inspired the people 
with a false confidence in ceremonies ; that he might cut off 
this confidence, he did not confine himself to ceremonies, 
nor did he speak specifically of what value they were ; but 
he included the whole law, as it is evident from those pas- 
sages which are derived from that source. Such also was 
the character of the disputation held at Jerusalem by the 

But we contend, not without reason, that Paul speaks 
here of the whole law ; for we are abundantly supported by 
the thread of reasoning which he has hitherto followed and 
continues to follow, and there are many other passages which 
will not allow us to think otherwise. It is therefore a truth, 
which deserves to be remembered as the first in import- 
ance, — that by keeping the law no one can attain righteous- 
ness. He had before assigned the reason, and he will repeat 
it presently again, and that is, that all, being to a man 
guilty of transgression, are condemned for unrighteousness 
by the law. And these two things — to be justified by 

argument, to mean law in general, both natural and revealed ; and S'« 
v'ipou in the next clause must be regarded as having the same meaning ; 
the law of nature as well as the written law, though not to the same ex- 
tent, makes sin known. This is the view taken by Parens, Doddridge, 
Macknigltt, Stuart, and Haldane. — Ed. 


works — and to be guilty of transgressions, (as we shall show 
more at large as we proceed,) are wholly inconsistent the one 
with the other. — The word flesh, without some particular 
specification, signifies men ; x though it seems to convey a 
meaning somewhat more general, as it is more expressive to 
say, " All mortals," than to say, " All men/' as you may 
see in Oallius. 

For by the law, &c. He reasons 'from what is of an oppo- 
site character, — that righteousness is not brought to us by 
the law, because it convinces us of sin and condemns us ; 
for life and death proceed not from the same fountain. 
And as he reasons from the contrary effect of the law, that 
it cannot confer righteousness on us, let us know, that the 
argument does not otherwise hold good, except we hold this 
as an inseparable and unvarying circumstance, — that by 
showing to man his sin, it cuts off the hope of salvation. It 
is indeed by itself, as it teaches us what righteousness is, 
the way to salvation : but our depravity and corruption pre- 
vent it from being in this respect of any advantage to us. 
It is also necessary in the second place to add this, — that 
whosoever is found to be a sinner, is deprived of righteous- 
ness ; for to devise with the sophisters a half kind of righte- 
ousness, so that works in part justify, is frivolous: but nothing 
is in this respect gained, on account of man's corruption. 

21. But now the righteousness of 21. Nunc autem sine Legejusti- 

God without the law 2 is manifested, tia Dei manifesta est, testimonio 

being witnessed by the law and the comprobata Legis et prophetarum ; 
prophets ; 

1 The expression is lv...vZfa. g*$ — not all, that is, not any flesh, &c. ; 
the word w£<r« 5 like ?2 in Hebrew, is used here in the sense of " any." 
The sentence bears a resemblance to what is contained in Ps. cxliii. 2, 
" for justified before thee shall not all living," or, not any one living, 
Tl P3...K7. The sentence here is literally, " Hence by works of law shall 
not be justified any flesh before Him." — Ed. 

2 Here again it is better, and indeed necessary for the Apostle's argu- 
ment, to render x,i*£s vipov, " without law," that is, without any law, 
either natural or revealed. The same sentiment is found in Gal. iii. 21 — 
" For if a law had been given, capable of giving life, truly righteous would 
have been by law (Ix. vipou.)" The version of Machvight seems just, 
" But now a righteousness of God without law is discovered." But we 
may retain the tense (^sipavE^ra/) « has been discovered," or manifested, 
or made known. " A righteousness of God without law," is a similar 


22. Even the righteousness of 22. Justitia, inquam, Dei per fi- 

God which is by faith of Jesus Christ dem Iesu Christi, in omnes et super 

unto all and upon all them that be- omnes credentes ; non est sane dis- 

lieve ; for there is no difference : tinctio : 

21. But now without the law, &c. It is not certain for 
what distinct reason lie calls that the righteousness of God, 
which we obtain by faith ; whether it be, because it can 
alone stand before God, or because the Lord in his mercy 
confers it on us. As both interpretations are suitable, we 
contend for neither. This righteousness then, which God 
communicates to man, and accepts alone, and owns as right- 
eousness, has been revealed, he says, without the law, that is, 
without the aid of the law ; and the law is to be understood 
as meaning works ; for it is not proper to refer this to its 
teaching, which he immediately adduces as bearing witness 
to the gratuitous righteousness of faith. Some confine it to 
ceremonies ; but this view I shall presently show to be un- 
sound and frigid. "We ought then to know, that the merits 
of works are excluded. We also see that he blends not 
works with the mercy of God ; but having taken away and 
wholly removed all confidence in works, he sets up mercy 

It is not Unknown to me, that Augustine gives a different 
explanation ; for he thinks that the righteousness of God is 
the grace of regeneration ; and this grace lie allows to be 
free, because God renews us, when unworthy, by his Spirit ; 
and from this he excludes the works of the law, that is, 
those works, by which men of themselves endeavour, without 
renovation, to render God indebted to them. (Deum prome- 
reri — to oblige God.) I also well know, that some new 
speculators proudly adduce this sentiment, as though it were 
at this day revealed to them. But that the Apostle includes 
all works without exception, even those which the Lord pro- 
duces in his own people, is evident from the context. 

For no doubt Abraham was regenerated and led by the 
Spirit of God at the time when he denied that he was justi- 

phrase to " the righteousness of God by faith," in ch. i. 17. — Then in the 
following clause the " law" means not specifically the law of Moses, but the 
Old Testament, excepting the Prophets. — Ed. 


fied by works. Hence he excluded from man's justification 
not only works morally good, as they commonly call them, 
and such as are done by the impulse of nature, but also all 
those which even the faithful can perform. 1 Again, since 
this is a definition of the righteousness of faith, " Blessed are 
they whose iniquities are forgiven/' there is no question to 
be made about this or that kind of work ; but the merit of 
works being abolished, the remission of sins alone is set 
down as the cause of righteousness. 

They think that these two things well agree, — that man 
is justified by faith through the grace of Christ, — and that 
he is yet justified by the works, which proceed from spiritual 
regeneration ; for God gratuitously renews us, and we also 
receive his gift by faith. But Paul takes up a very different 
principle, — that the consciences of men will never be tran- 
quillized until they recumb on the mercy of God alone. 2 
Hence, in another place, after having taught us that God is 
in Christ justifying men, he expresses the- manner, — " By 
not imputing to them their sins/' In like manner, in his 
Epistle to the Galatians, he puts the law in opposition to 
faith with regard to justification ; for the law promises life 
to those who do what it commands, (Gal. iii. 12 ;) and it re- 
quires not only the outward performance of works, but also 
sincere love to God. It hence follows, that in the righteous- 
ness of faith, no merit of works is allowed. It then appears 

1 Professor Hodge very justly observes, " It never was the doctrine of 
the Reformation, or of the Lutheran and Calvinistic divines, that the 
imputation of righteousness affected the moral character of those con- 
cerned. It is true," he adds, " whom God justifies he also sanctifies ; 
but justification is not sanctification, and the imputation of righteousness is 
not the infusion of righteousness."— Ed. 

2 " The foundation of your trust before God, must be either your own 
righteousness out and out, or the righteousness of Christ out and out... 
If you are to lean upon your own merit, lean upon it wholly — if you are 
to lean upon Christ, lean upon him wholly. The two will not amalga- 
mate together ; and it is the attempt to do so, which keeps many a weary 
and heavy-laden inquirer at a distance from rest, and at a distance from 
the truth of the gospel. Maintain a clear and consistent posture. Stand 
not before God with one foot upon a rock and the other upon a treacher- 
ous quicksand... We call upon you not to lean so much as the weight of 
one grain or scruple of your confidence upon your own doings— to leave 
this ground entirely, and to come over entirely to the ground of a Re- 
deemer's blood and a Redeemer's righteousness." — Dr. Chalmers. 


evident, that it is but a frivolous sophistry to say, that we 
are justified in Christ, because we are renewed by the 
Spirit, inasmuch as we are the members of Christ, — that we 
are justified by faith, because we are united by faith to the 
body of Christ, — that we are justified freely, because God 
finds nothing in us but sin. 

But we are in Christ, because we are out of ourselves ; and 
justified hy faith, because we must recumb on the mercy of 
God alone, and on his gratuitous promises ; and freely, be- 
cause God reconciles us to himself by burying our sins. 
Nor can this indeed be confined to the commencement of 
justification, as they dream ; for this definition — " Blessed 
are they whose iniquities are forgiven" — was applicable to 
David, after he had long exercised himself in the service of 
God ; and Abraham, thirty years after his call, though a re- 
markable example of holiness, had yet no works for which he 
could glory before God, and hence his faith in the promise 
was imputed to him for righteousness ; and when Paul teaches 
us that God justifies men by not imputing their sins, he 
quotes a passage, which is daily repeated in the Church. 
Still more, the conscience, by which we are disturbed on the 
score of works, performs its office, not for one day only, but 
continues to do so through life. It hence follows that we 
cannot remain, even to death, in a justified state, except we 
look to Christ only, in whom God has adopted us, and re- 
gards us now as accepted. Hence also is their sophistry 
confuted, who falsely accuse us of asserting, that according 
to Scripture we are justified by faith only, while the exclu- 
sive word only, is nowhere to be found in Scripture. But if 
justification depends not either on the law, or on ourselves, 
why should it not be ascribed to mercy alone ? and if it be 
from mercy only, it is then by faith only. 

The particle wow may be taken adversatively, and not with 
reference to time ; as we often use now for but 1 But if you 
prefer to regard it as an adverb of time, I willingly admit it, 

1 " The words but now may be regarded merely as marking the transi- 
tion from one paragraph to another, or as a designation of tense ; now, i.e., 
under the gospel dispensation. In favour of this view is the phrase, (i to 
declare at this time his righteousness, verse 26." — Hodge. 


so that there may be no room to suspect an evasion ; yet the 
abrogation of ceremonies alone is not to be understood ; for 
it was only the design of the Apostle to illustrate by a com- 
parison the grace by which we excel the fathers. Then the 
meaning is, that by the preaching of the gospel, after the 
appearance of Christ in the flesh, the righteousness of faith 
was revealed. It does not, however, hence follow, that it 
was hid before the coming of Christ ; for a twofold mani- 
festation is to be here noticed : the first in the Old Testa- 
ment, which was by the word and sacraments ; the other in 
the New, which contains the completion of ceremonies and 
promises, as exhibited in Christ himself: and we may add, 
that by the gospel it has received a fuller brightness. 

Being 'proved [or approved] by the testimony, 1 &c. He 
adds this, lest in the conferring of free righteousness the 
gospel should seem to militate against the law. As then he 
has denied that the righteousness of faith needs the aid of 
the law, so now he asserts that it is confirmed by its testi- 
mony. If then the law affords its testimony to gratuitous 
righteousness, it is evident that the law was not given for 
this end, to teach men how to obtain righteousness by works. 
Hence they pervert it, who turn it to answer any purpose of 
this kind. And further, if you desire a proof of this truth, 
examine in order the chief things taught by Moses, and you 
will find that man, being cast from the kingdom of God, had 
no other restoration from the beginning than that contained 
in the evangelical promises through the blessed seed, by 
whom, as it had been foretold, the serpent's head was to be 
bruised, and through whom a blessing to the nations had 
been promised : you will find in the commandments a de- 
monstration of your iniquity, and from the sacrifices and 
oblations you may learn that satisfaction and cleansing are 
to be obtained in Christ alone. 2 When you come to the Pro- 

1 "Testimonio comprobata," &c, so Beza and Parens render fia^ru^ov- 
fiiv?) ; " Being attested," Doddridge ; " Being testified," Machiight. 
Schleusner gives a paraphrase, " Being predicted and promised ;" and this 
no doubt is the full meaning. — Ed. 

2 Concurrent with what is said here is this striking and condensed pas- 
sage from Scott, — " It has been witnessed by the law and the Prophets ; 
the ceremonies typified it ; the very strictness of the moral law and its awful 


phets you will find the clearest promises of gratuitous mercy. 
On this subject see my Institutes. 

22. Even the righteousness of God, &C. 1 He shows in few 
words what this justification is, even that which is found in 
Christ and is apprehended by faith. At the same time, by 
introducing again the name of God, he seems to make God 
the founder, (autorem, the author,) and not only the approver 
of the righteousness of which he speaks; as though he had 
said, that it flows from him alone, or that its origin is from 
heaven, but that it is made manifest to us in Christ. 

When therefore we discuss this subject, we ought to pro- 
ceed in this way : First, the question respecting our justi- 
fication is to be referred, not to the judgment of men, but to 
the judgment of God, before whom nothing is counted right- 
eousness, but perfect and absolute obedience to the law ; 
which appears clear from its promises and threatenings : if 
no one is found who has attained to such a perfect measure 
of holiness, it follows that all are in themselves destitute of 
righteousness. Secondly, it is necessary that Christ should 
come to our aid ; who, being alone just, can render us just 
by transferring to us his own righteousness. You now see 
how the righteousness of faith is the righteousness of Christ. 
When therefore we are justified, the efficient cause is the 
mercy of God, the meritorious is Christ, the instrumental is 
the word in connection with faith. 2 Hence faith is said to 
justify, because it is the instrument by which we receive 
Christ, in whom righteousness is conveyed to us. Having 

curses, being compared with the promises of mercy to sinners, implied it ; 
the promises and predictions of the Messiah bore witness to it ; the faith 
and hope of ancient believers recognised it ; and the whole Old Testament, 
rightly understood, taught men to expect and depend on it." — Ed. 

1 The words which follow, S;« a-iV«s)s 'in<rov x^o-rov, " by or through the 
faith of Jesus Christ," mean not the faith which is his, but the faith of 
which he is the object. They ought to be rendered " through faith in 
Jesus Christ. " The genitive case has often this meaning : " e^etj sr<Vr<v 
©sou — Have faith in (of) God," Mark xi. 22 ; " Ev viaru Z,Z rri toZ v\ou red 
@ioZ — I live by the faith of the Son of God ;" it should be in our language, 
"I live by faith in the Son of God." This genitive case of the object is 
an Hebraism, and is of frequent occurrence. — Ed. 

2 The original is this, " TJt ergo justificemur, causa efficiens est miseri- 
cordia Dei, Christus materia, verbum cum fide instrumentum — When there- 
fore we are justified, the efficient cause is God's mercy, Christ is the ma- 
terial, the word with faith is the instrument." — Ed. 


been made partakers of Christ, we ourselves are not only 
just, but our works also are counted just before God, and for 
this reason, because whatever imperfections there may be in 
them, are obliterated by the blood of Christ ; the promises, 
which are conditional, are also by the same grace fulfilled 
to us ; for God rewards our works as perfect, inasmuch as 
their defects are covered by free pardon. 

Unto all and upon all, 1 &c. For the sake of amplifying, 
he repeats the same thing in different forms ; it was, that 
he might more fully express what we have already heard, 
that faith alone is required, that the faithful are not dis- 
tinguished by external marks, and that hence it matters not 
whether they be Gentiles or Jews. 

23. For all have sinned, and 23. Omnes enim peccaverunt, et 
come short of the glory of God : destituuntur gloria Dei ; 

24. Being justified freely by his 24. Justificati gratis ipsius gratia 
grace, through the redemption that per redemptionem quae est in Christo 
is in Christ Jesus ; Iesu : 

25. Whom God hath set forth to 25. Quem proposuit Deus propi- 
be a propitiation through faith in his tiatorium per fidem in sanguine 
blood, to declare his righteousness ipsius, in demonstrationem justitise 
for the remission of sins that are past, suse, propter' remissionem delicto- 
through the forbearance of God ; rum, 

26. To declare, / say, at this time 26. Quse prius extiterunt in to- 
his righteousness ; that he might be lerantia Dei ; ad demonstrationem 
just, and the justifier of him which justitise suse, in hoc tempore ; ut sit 
believeth in Jesus. ipse Justus et justificans eum qui est 

ex fide Iesu. 

There is indeed no' difference, &c. He urges on all, with- 
out exception, the necessity of seeking righteousness in 
Christ ; as though he had said, " There is no other way of 
attaining righteousness ; for some cannot be justified in this 

1 E/j iravTas xai \m irxvras. He makes a similar difference in his expres- 
sions in verse 30. This righteousness, as some say, came to the Jews, as 
it had been promised to them, and uponthe Gentiles, as a gift with which 
they were not acquainted, and it was conferred on them. But the posses- 
sion was equal and belonged to all who believed, and to none else, whether 
Jews or Gentiles. 

Stuart connects these words with " manifested;" or revealed, in verse 21. 
It is manifested to all, and manifested for all; that is, for the real benefit 
of all who believe ; in other words, it is offered to all, but becomes of real 
advantage only to those who believe. But the simpler mode is to consider 
the words which is, as in our version, to be understood, 'e^o^ev» is the 
word which Luther adopts. — Ed. 


and others in that way; but all must alike be justified by 
faith, because all are sinners, and therefore have nothing for 
which they can glory before God/' But he takes as granted 
that every one, conscious of his sin, when he comes before the 
tribunal of God, is confounded and lost under a sense of his 
own shame ; so that no sinner can bear the presence of God, as 
we see an example in the case of Adam. He again brings 
forward a reason taken from the opposite side ; and hence 
we must notice what follows. Since we are all sinners, Paul 
concludes, that we are deficient in, or destitute of, the praise 
due to righteousness. There is then, according to what he 
teaches, no righteousness but what is perfect and absolute. 
Were there indeed such a thing as half righteousness, it 
would yet be necessary to deprive the sinner entirely of all 
glory : and hereby the figment of partial righteousness, as 
they call it, is sufficiently confuted ; for if it were true that 
we are justified in part by works, and in part by grace, this 
argument of Paul would be of no force — that all are deprived 
of the glory of God because they are sinners. It is then 
certain, there is no righteousness where there is sin, until 
Christ removes the curse ; and this very thing is what is 
said in Gal. iii. 10, that all who are under the law are ex- 
posed to the curse, and that we are delivered from it through 
the kindness of Christ. The glory of God I take to mean 
the approbation of God, as in John xii. 43, where it is said, 
that " they loved the glory of men more than the glory of 
God." And thus he summons us from the applause of a 
human court to the tribunal of heaven. 1 

24. Being justified freely, &c. A participle is here put 
for a verb according to the usage of the Greek language. 

1 Beza gives another view, that the verb Itm^ oZvrai, refers to those who 
run a race, and reach not the goal, and lose the prize. The " glory of 
God" is the happiness which he bestows ; (see ch. v. 2 ;) of this all man- 
kind come short, however much some seemed to labour for it ; and it can 
only be attained by faith. Parens, Locke, and Whitby give the same view. 
Others consider it to be " the glory" due to God, — that all come short of 
rendering him the service and honour which he justly demands and re- 
quires. So Doddridge, Scott, and Chalmers. But Melancthon, Grotius, 
and Macknight seemed to have agreed with Calvin in regarding " glory" 
here as the praise or approbation that comes from God. The second view 
seems the most appropriate, according to what is said in ch. i. 21, " they 
glorified him not as God." — Ed. 


The meaning is, — that since there remains nothing for men, 
as to themselves, but to perish, being smitten by the just 
judgment of God, they are to be justified freely through his 
mercy ; for Christ comes to the aid of this misery, and com- 
municates himself to believers, so that they find in him 
alone all those things in which they are wanting. There is, 
perhaps, no passage in the whole Scripture which illustrates 
in a more striking manner the efficacy of his righteousness ; 
for it shows that God's mercy is the efficient cause, that 
Christ with his blood is the meritorious cause, that the for- 
mal or instrumental cause is faith in the word, and that, 
moreover, the final cause is the glory of the divine justice 
and goodness. 

With regard to the efficient cause, he says, that we are 
justified freely, and further, by his grace ; and he thus re- 
peats the word to show that the whole is from God, and 
nothing from us. It might have been enough to oppose 
grace to merits ; but lest we should imagine a half kind of 
grace, he affirms more strongly what he means by a repeti- 
tion, and claims for God's mercy alone the whole glory of our 
righteousness, which the sophists divide into parts and muti- 
late, that they may not be constrained to confess their own 
poverty. — Through the redemption, &c. This is the material, 
— Christ by his obedience satisfied the Father's justice, (ju- 
dicium — judgment,) and by undertaking our cause he liber- 
ated us from the tyranny of death, by which we were held 
captive ; as on account of the sacrifice which he offered is 
our guilt removed. Here again is fully confuted the gloss 
of those who make righteousness a quality ; for if we are 
counted righteous before God, because we are redeemed by 
a price, we certainly derive from another what is not in us. 
And Paul immediately explains more clearly what this re- 
demption is, and what is its object, which is to reconcile us 
to God ; for he calls Christ a propitiation, (or, if we prefer an 
allusion to an ancient type,) a propitiatory. But what he 
means is, that we are not otherwise just than through Christ 
propitiating the Father for us. But it is necessary for us to 
examine the words. 1 

1 On this word Ixa.trfyim, both Venema, in his Notes on the Comment of 


25. Whom God hath set forth, &c. The Greek verb, irpoTi- 
devat, means sometimes to determine beforehand, and some- 
times to set forth. If the first meaning be taken, Paul refers 
to the gratuitous mercy of God, in having appointed Christ 
as our Mediator, that he might appease the Father by the 
sacrifice of his death : nor is it a small commendation of 
God's grace that he, of his own good will, sought out a way 
by which he might remove our curse. According to this 
view, the passage fully harmonizes with that in John iii. 16, 
" God so loved the world, that he gave his only-begotten 
Son." Yet if we embrace this meaning, it will remain still 
true, that God hath set him forth in due time, whom he had 
appointed as a Mediator. There seems to be an allusion in 
the word, tXaarrjpiov, as I have said, to the ancient propiti- 
atory ; for he teaches us that the same thing was really ex- 
hibited in Christ, which had been previously typified. As, 
however, the other view cannot be disproved, should any 

Stepkanus de Brais on this Epistle, and Professor Stuart, have long re- 
marks. They both agree as- to the meaning of the word as found in the 
Septuagint and in Greek authors, but they disagree as to its import here. 
It means uniformly in the Septuagint, the mercy-seat, n~i£D, and, as it 
is in the form of an adjective, it has at least once, (Ex. xxv. 17,) wfapu., 
cover, added to it. But in the Classics it means- a propitiatory sacrifice, 
the word fopa., a sacrifice, being understood ; but it is used by itself as 
other words of similar termination are. It is found also in Joscphus and 
in Maccabees in this sense. It appears that Origen, Theodoret, and other 
Fathers, and also Erasmus, Luther, and Locke, take the first meaning — 
mercy-seat ; and that Grotius, Elsner\ Turrettin, Bos, and Tholuck, take 
the second meaning — a propitiatory sacrifice. Now as both meanings 
are legitimate, which of them are we to take ? Venema and Stuart allude 
to one thing which much favours the latter view, that is, the phrase h ru> 
alficcrt alrov ; and the latter says, that it would be incongruous to represent 
Christ himself as the mercy-seat, and to represent him also as sprinkled 
by his own blood ; but that it is appropriate to say that a propitiatory 
sacrifice was made by his blood. The verb v^o'iforo, set forth, it is added, 
seems to support the same view. To exhibit a mercy-seat is certainly 
not suitable language in this connection. 

Pareus renders it " placamentum — atonement," hoc est, " placatorem," 
that is, " atoner, or cxpiator." Beza's version is the same — " placamen- 
tum :" Doddridge has " propitiation," and Macknight, " a propitiatory," 
and Schleusner, " expiatorem — expiator." 

The word occurs in one other place with the neuter article, ™ /x^o-t^oi;, 
Heb. ix. 5 ; where it clearly means the mercy-seat. It is ever accompanied 
with the article in the Septuagint, when by itself, see Lev. xvi. 2, 13-15 ; 
but here it is without the article, and may be viewed as an adjective de- 
pendent on h, " whom," and rendered propitiator. Had the mercy-seat 
been intended, it would have been ™ 'iXaarn^iov, — Ed. 


prefer it, I shall not undertake to decide the question. What 
Paul especially meant here is no doubt evident from his 
words ; and it was this, — that God, without having regard 
to Christ, is always angry with us, — and that we are recon- 
ciled to him when we are accepted through his righteousness. 
God does not indeed hate in us his own workmanship, that 
is, as we are formed men ; but he hates our uncleanness, 
which has extinguished the light of his image. When the 
washing of Christ cleanses this away, he then loves and em- 
braces us as his own pure workmanship. 

A propitiation through faith in his blood, &c. I prefer 
thus literally to retain the language of Paul ; for it seems 
indeed to me that he intended, by one single sentence, to 
declare that God is propitious to us as soon as we have our 
trust resting on the blood of Christ ; for by faith we come 
to the possession of this benefit. But by mentioning blood 
only, he did not mean to exclude other things connected 
with redemption, but, on the contrary, to include the whole 
under one word : and he mentioned " blood/' because by it 
we are cleansed. Thus, by taking a part for the whole, he 
points out the whole work of expiation. For, as he had said 
before, that God is reconciled in Christ, so he now adds, that 
this reconciliation is obtained by faith, mentioning, at the 
same time, what it is that faith ought mainly to regard in 
Christ — his blood. 

For (propter) the remission of sins, 1 &c. The casual pre- 

1 The words are, S;« rk» w;!«. They seem connected, not with the first 
clause, but with the one immediately preceding ; and £<« may be rendered 
here in ; see a note on ch. ii. 26 ; or more properly, perhaps, on account 
of. " For a proof of his own righteousness in passing by the sins," &c, 
Macknight ; " In order to declare his justification tvith respect to the re- 
mission of sins," Stuart. 

What is God's "righteousness" here has been variously explained. 
Some regard it his righteousness in fulfilling his promises, as Beza ; others, 
his righteousness in Christ to believers, mentioned in ch. i. 17, as Augus- 
tine ; and others, his righteousness as the God of rectitude and justice, as 
Chrysostom. Some, too, as Grotius, view it as meaning goodness or 
mercy, regarding the word as having sometimes this sense. 

It is the context that can help us to the right meaning. God exhibited 
his Son as a propitiation, to set forth this righteousness ; and this right- 
eousness is connected with the remission of, or rather, as the word means, 
the preterition of or connivance at sins committed under the old dispensa- 
tion : and those sins were connived at through the forbearance of God, he 


position imports as much as though he had said, " for the 
sake of remission/' or, " to this end, that he might blot out 
sins." And this definition or explanation again confirms 
what I have already often reminded you, — that men are 
pronounced just, not because they are such in reality, but 
by imputation : for he only uses various modes of expression, 
that he might more clearly declare, that in this righteous- 
ness there is no merit of ours ; for if we obtain it by the 
remission of sins, we conclude that it is not from ourselves ; 
and further, since remission itself is an act of God's bounty 
alone, every merit falls to the ground. 

It may, however, be asked, why he confines pardon to 
preceding sins ? Though this passage is variously explained, 
yet it seems to me probable that Paul had regard to the 
legal expiations, which were indeed evidences of a future 
satisfaction, but could by no means pacify God. There is a 
similar passage in Heb. ix. 15, where it is said, that by Christ 
a redemption was brought from sins, which remained under 
the former Testament. You are not, however, to understand 
that no sins but those of former times were expiated by the 
death of Christ — a delirious notion, which some fanatics 

not executing the punishment they deserved ; and the purpose is stated to 
he,— that God might be or appear just, while he is the justifier of those who 
believe in Christ. JSTow, what can this righteousness be but his adminis- 
trative justice ? As the law allowed no remission, and God did remit sins, 
there appeared, to be a stain on divine justice. The exhibition of Christ 
as an atonement is what alone removes it. And there is a word in the 
former verse, as Venema justly observes, which tends to confirm this view, 
and that word is redemption, a-proXvT^ins, which is a deliverance obtained 
by a ransom, or by a price, such as justice requires. 

Both Doddridge and Scott regard the passage in this light ; and the 
latter gives the following version of it, — 

" Whom God hath before appointed to be a propitiation, through faith 
in his blood, for a demonstration of his justice, on account of the 
passing by of sins, that had been committed in former times, 
through the forbearance of God ; / say, for a demonstration of his 
justice, in this present time, in order that he might be just, and the 
justifier of him that believeth in Jesus." — Nothing can be clearer 
than this version. 
The last words are rightly rendered, though not literally ; rov I» vritrnas 
'Urov — " him of the faith of Jesus," or, " him of faith in Jesus." Him of 
faith is him who believes, as toIs obx, Ik ■z-tgirop.Zs — "them not of circum- 
cision," means " them who are not circumcised," ch. iv. 12 ; and r»7s s£ 
IphUs — " those of contention," signifies, " those who contend," or, are con- 
tentious, ch. ii. 8. — Ed. 


have drawn from a distorted view of this passage. For Paul 
teaches us only this, — that until the death of Christ there 
was no way of appeasing God, and that this was not done or 
accomplished by the legal types : hence the reality was sus- 
pended until the fulness of time came. We may further say, 
that those things which involve us daily in guilt must be 
regarded in the same light ; for there is but one true expi- 
ation for all. 

Some, in order to avoid what seems inconsistent, have 
held that former sins are said to have been forgiven, lest 
there should seem to be a liberty given to sin in future. It 
is indeed true that no pardon is offered but for sins com- 
mitted ; not that the benefit of redemption fails or is lost, 
when we afterwards fall, as Novatus and his sect dreamed, 
but that it is the character of the dispensation of the gospel, 
to set before him who will sin the judgment and wrath of 
God, and before the sinner his mercy. But what I have 
already stated is the real sense. 

He adds, that this remission was through forbearance ; 
and this I take simply to mean gentleness, which has stayed 
the judgment of God, and suffered it not to burst forth to 
our ruin, until he had at length received us into favour. But 
there seems to be here also an implied anticipation of what 
might be said ; that no one might object, and say that this 
favour had only of late appeared. Paul teaches us, that it 
was an evidence of forbearance. 

26. For a demonstration, 1 &c. The repetition of this clause 

1 There is a different preposition used here, ^^s, while *U is found in 
the preceding verse. The meaning seems to be the same ; for both pre- 
positions are used to designate the design, end, or object of any thing. 
This variety seems to have been usual with the Apostle ; similar instances 
are found in ver. 22, as to us and i#), and in ver. 30, as to £* and ?/«. 
" By both," says Wolfius, " the final cause (causa finalis) is indicated." 
Beza renders them both by the same preposition, ad, in Latin ; and Stuart 
regards the two as equivalent. There is, perhaps, more refinement than 
truth in what Parens says, — that us intimates the proximate end — the 
forgiveness of sins ; and *§«, the final end — the glory of God in the exhi- 
bition of his justice as well as of his mercy. There is, at the same time, 
something in the passage which seems favourable to this view. Two objects 
are stated at the end of the passage, — that God might appear just, and be 
also the justifier of such as believe. The last may refer to lis, and the 
former to *■§« ; and this is consistent with the usual style of the Apostle ; 



is emphatical ; and Paul designedly made it, as it was very- 
needful ; for nothing is more difficult than to persuade man 
that he ought to disclaim all things as his own, and to 
ascribe them all to God. At the same time mention was 
intentionally made twice of this demonstration, that the Jews 
might open their eyes to behold it. — At this time, &c. What 
had been ever at all times, he applies to the time when Christ 
was revealed, and not without reason ; for what was formerly 
known in an obscure manner under shadows, God openly 
manifested in his Son. So the coming of Christ was the 
time of his good pleasure, and the day of salvation. God 
had indeed in all ages given some evidence of his righteous- 
ness ;ebut it appeared far brighter when the sun of right- 
eousness shone. Noticed, then, ought to be the comparison 
between the Old and the New Testament ; for then only was 
revealed the righteousness of God when Christ appeared. 

That he might be just, &c. This is a definition of that 
righteousness which he has declared was revealed when 
Christ was given, and which, as he has taught us in the first 
chapter, is made known in the gospel : and he affirms that 
it consists of two pails — The first is, that God is just, not 
indeed as one among many, but as one who contains within 
himself all fulness of righteousness ; for complete and full 
praise, such as is due, is not otherwise given to him, but 
when he alone obtains the name and the honour of being- 
just, while the whole human race is condemned for injus- 
tice : and then the other part refers to the communication 
of righteousness ; for God by no means keeps his riches 
laid up in himself, but pours them forth upon men. Then 
the righteousness of God shines in us, whenever he justifies 
us by faith in Christ ; for in vain were Christ given us for 
righteousness, unless there was the fruition of him by faith. 
It hence follows, that all were unjust and lost in themselves, 
until a remedy from heaven was offered to them. 1 

for, in imitation of the Prophets, where two things are mentioned in a 
former clause, the order is reversed in the second. — Ed. 

A parallel passage to this, including the two verses, 25 and 26, is 
found in Heh. ix. 15 ; where a reference, as here, is made to the effect of 
Christ's death as to the saints under the Old Testament. The same truth 
is implied in other parts of Scripture, hut not so expressly declared. 


27. Where is boasting then ? It 27. Ubi ergo gloriatio? 1 exclusa 
is excluded. By what law? of works? est. Per quam legem? operum ? 
Nay : but by the law of faith. Nequaquam ; sed per legem fidei. 

28. Therefore we conclude, that a 28. Constituimus ergo, fide Justi- 
nian is justified by faith without the ficari hominem sine operibus Legis. 
deeds of the law. 

27. Where then is glorying ? The Apostle, after having, 
with reasons abundantly strong, cast down men from their 
confidence in works, now triumphs over their folly : and this 
exulting conclusion was necessary; for on this subject, to 
teach us would not have been enough ; it was necessary that 
the Holy Spirit should loudly thunder, in order to lay pro- 
strate our loftiness. But he says that glorying is beyond all 
doubt excluded, for we cannot adduce anything of our own, 
which is worthy of being approved or commended by God. 
If the material of glorying be merit, whether you name that 
of congruity or of condignity, by which man would conciliate 
God, you see that both are here annihilated ; for he treats 
not of the lessening or the modifying of merit, but Paul 
leaves not a particle behind. Besides, since by faith glory- 
ing in works is so taken away, that faith cannot be truly 
preached, without wholly depriving man of all praise by 
ascribing all to God's mercy — it follows, that we are assisted 
by no works in obtaining righteousness. 

Of works? In what sense does the Apostle deny here, 
that our merits are excluded by the law, since he has before 
proved that we are condemned by the law ? for if the law 
delivers us over to death, what glorying can we obtain from 
it ? Does it not on the contrary deprive us of all glorying 
and cover us with shame ? He then indeed showed, that 
our sin is laid open by what the law declares, for the keep- 
ing of it is what we have all neglected : but he means here, 
that were righteousness to be had by the law of works, our 

Stuart makes here an important remark — that if the death of Christ be 
regarded only as that of a martyr or as an example of constancy, how then 
could its efficacy be referred to " sins that are past ?" In no other way 
than as a vicarious death could it possibly have any effect on past sins, not 
punished through God's forbearance. — Ed. 

1 Gloriatio — xaix,wis — glorying — boasting or rejoicing. " The result of 
the gospel plan of salvation is to prevent all self-approbation, self-gratula- 
tion and exaltation on the part of the sinner." — Hodge. 


glorying would not be excluded ; but as it is by faith alone, 
there is nothing that we can claim for ourselves ; for faith 
receives all from God, and brings nothing except an humble 
confession of want. 

This contrast between faith and works ought to be care- 
fully noticed : works are here mentioned without any limi- 
tation, even works universally. Then he neither speaks of 
ceremonies only, nor specifically of any external work, but 
includes all the merits of works which can possibly be im- 

The name of law is here, with no strict correctness, given 
to faith : but this by no means obscures the meaning of the 
Apostle ; for what he understands is, that when we come to 
the rule of faith, the whole glorying in works is laid pro- 
strate ; as though he said — " The righteousness of works is 
indeed commended by the law, but that of faith has its 
own law, which leaves to works, whatever they may be, no 
righteousness/' 1 

28. We then conclude, &c. He now draws the main propo- 
sition, as one that is incontrovertible, and adds an explana- 
tion. Justification by faith is indeed made very clear, while 
works are expressly excluded. Hence, in nothing do our 
adversaries labour more in the present day than in attempts 
to blend faith with the merits of works. They indeed allow 
that man is justified by faith ; but not by faith alone ; yea, 
they place the efficacy of justification in love, though in 
words they ascribe it to faith. But Paul affirms in this pas- 
sage that justification is so gratuitous, that he makes it 
quite evident, that it can by no means be associated with 
the merit of works. Why he names the works of the law, I 

1 Qrotius explains " law" here by " vivendi regula — rule of living ;" 
Beza, by " doctrina — doctrine or teaching," according to the import of the 
word min in Hebrew ; and Pareus takes " the law of works," metonymi- 
cally, for works themselves, and " the law of faith," for faith itself; and 
he quotes these words of Theophjlact, " The Apostle calls faith a law, 
because the word, law, was in high veneration among the Jews." He uses 
the term, law, in a similar manner in chap. viii. 2, " The law of the spirit 
of life," &c. " He calls here the gospel ' the law of faith,' because faith is 
the condition of the gospel covenant, as perfect obedience was the condition 
of the covenant of nature and of that of Moses, (conditio foederis naturalis 
et foederis Mosaici.)" — Turrettin. 


have already explained ; and I have also proved that it is 
quite absurd to confine them to ceremonies. Frigid also is 
the gloss, that works are to be taken for those which are 
outward, and done without the Spirit of Christ. On the 
contrary, the word law that is added, means the same as 
though he called them meritorious ; for what is referred to 
is the reward promised in the law. 1 

What James says, that man is not justified by faith alone, 
but also by works, does not at all militate against the pre- 
ceding view. The reconciling of the two views depends 
chiefly on the drift of the argument pursued by James. For 
the question with him is not, how men attain righteousness 
before God, but how they prove to others that they are jus- 
tified ; for his object was to confute hypocrites, who vainly 
boasted that they had faith. Gross then is the sophistry, 
not to admit that the word, to justify, is taken in a different 
sense by James, from that in which it is used by Paul ; for 
they handle different subjects. The word, faith, is also no 
doubt capable of various meanings. These two things must 
be taken to the account, before a correct judgment can be 
formed on the point. We may learn from the context, that 
James meant no more than that man is not made or proved 
to be just by a feigned or dead faith, and that he must prove 
his righteousness by his works. See on this subject my In- 

29. Is he the God of the Jews only? 29. Num Iudseorum Deus tan- 
k's he not also of the Gentiles? Yes, turn? an non et Gentium? certe et 
of the Gentiles also: Gentium. 

30. Seeing it is one God 2 which shall 30. Quandoquidem unus Deus, qui 

justify the circumcision by faith, and justificabit circumcisionem ex fide, et 

uncircumcision through faith. prseputium per fidem. 

29. Is he the God of the Jews only ? The second proposi- 
tion is, that this righteousness belongs no more to the Jews 
than to the Gentiles : and it was a great matter that this 

1 The phrase, x a {'s «gy«v t'opov, may be rendered, " without the works of 
law," that is, either natural or revealed ; for Gentiles as well as Jews are 
here contemplated. — Ed. 

2 Big o 9-to; — unus Deus. eFj here means the same, see 1 Cor. hi. 8 ; or 
if it be rendered one, it refers to God as being one in his purpose, and as to 
the way of salvation. See Zech. xiv. 9. — Ed. 


point should be urged, in order that a free passage might 
be made for the kingdom of Christ through the whole world. 
He does not then ask simply or expressly, whether God was 
the Creator of the Gentiles, which was admitted without any 
dispute ; but whether he designed to manifest himself as a 
Saviour also to them. As he had put all mankind on a 
level, and brought them to the same condition, if there be 
any difference between them, it is from God, not from them- 
selves, who have all things alike : but if it be true that God 
designs to make all the nations of the earth partakers of his 
mercy, then salvation, and righteousness, which is necessary 
for salvation, must be extended to all. Hence under the 
name, God, is conveyed an intimation of a mutual relation- 
ship, which is often mentioned in Scripture, — " I shall be to 
you a God, and you shall be to me a people." (Jer. xxx. 22.) 
For the circumstance, that God, for a time, chose for him- 
self a peculiar people, did not make void the origin of man- 
kind, who were all formed after the image of God, and were 
to be brought up in the world in the hope of a blessed eter- 

30. Who shall justify? &c. In saying that some are justi- 
fied by faith, and some through faith, he seems to have in- 
dulged himself in varying his language, while he expresses 
the same thing, and for this end, — that he might, by the 
way, touch on the folly of the Jews, who imagined a differ- 
ence between themselves and the Gentiles, though on the 
subject of justification there was no difference whatever ; 
for since men became partakers of this grace by faith only, 
and since faith in all is the same, it is absurd to make a dis- 
tinction in what is so much alike. I am hence led to think 
that there is something ironical in the words, as though he 
said, — " If any wishes to have a difference made between the 
Gentile and the Jew, let him take this, — that the one ob- 
tains righteousness by faith, and the other through faith." 
But it may be, that some will prefer this distinction, — that 

1 The future is used for the present — " who justifies," after the manner 
of the Hebrew language, though some consider that the day of judgment is 
referred to ; hut he seems to speak of a present act, or as Oro'tius says, of 
a continued act, which the Hebrews expressed by the future tense. — Ed. 


the Jews were justified by faith, because they were born the 
heirs of grace, as the right of adoption was transmitted to 
them from the Fathers, — and that the Gentiles were justi- 
fied through faith, because the covenant to them was adven- 

31. Do we then make void the law 31. Legem igitur irritam facimus 
through faith ? God forbid : yea, we per fidem ? Ne ita sit : sed Legem 
establish the law. stabilimus. 

31. Bo we then make, &c. When the law is opposed to 
faith, the flesh immediately suspects that there is some con- 
trariety, as though the one were adverse to the other : and 
this false notion prevails, especially among those who are 
imbued with wrong ideas as to the law, and leaving the 
promises, seek nothing else through it but the righteousness 
of works. And on this account, not only Paul, but our 
Lord himself, was evil spoken of by the Jews, as though in 
all his preaching he aimed at the abrogation of the law. 
Hence it was that he made this protest, — " I came not to 
undo, but to fulfil the law." (Matt. v. 17.) 

And this suspicion regards the moral as well as the cere- 
monial law ; for as the gospel has put an end to the Mosaic 
ceremonies, it is supposed to have a tendency to destroy the 
whole dispensation of Moses. And further, as it sweeps 
away all the righteousness of works, it is believed to be op- 
posed to all those testimonies of the law, by which the Lord 
has declared, that he has thereby prescribed the way of 
righteousness and salvation. I therefore take this defence 
of Paul, not only as to ceremonies, nor as to the command- 
ments which are called moral, but with regard to the whole 
law universally. 1 

1 The law here, no doubt means, the law of which mention is made in the 
preceding verses — the law by the works of which we cannot be justified — 
the law that is in this respect opposed to faith. To refer us for its mean- 
ing to verses 20 and 21, as is done by Stuart, "is wholly unwarrantable," 
and to say that it means the Old Testament ; for this is to separate it from 
its immediate connection without any satisfactory reason. Besides, such 
an interpretation obliterates an important doctrine, that faith does not 
render void, or nullify the authority, the use and sanctions of the moral 
law, but on the contrary, sustains and confirms them. Though it does 
what the law does not, and cannot do, inasmuch as it saves the sinner whom 


For the moral law is in reality confirmed and established 
through faith in Christ, inasmuch as it was given for this 
end — to lead man to Christ by showing him his iniquity ; 
and without this it cannot be fulfilled, and in vain will it 
require what ought to be done ; nor can it do anything but 
irritate lust more and more, and thus finally increase man's 
condemnation ; but where there is a coming to Christ, there 
is first found in him the perfect righteousness of the law, 
which becomes ours by imputation, and then there is sanc- 
tification, by which our hearts are prepared to keep the law; 
it is indeed imperfectly done, but there is an aiming at the 
work. Similar is the case with ceremonies, which indeed 
cease and vanish away when Christ comes, but they are in 
reality confirmed by him ; for when they are viewed in them- 
selves they are vain and shadowy images, and then only do 
they attain anything real and solid, when their end is re- 
garded. In this then consists their chief confirmation, when 
they have obtained their accomplishment in Christ. Let us 
then also bear in mind, so to dispense the gospel that by our 
mode of teaching the law may be confirmed ; but let it be 
sustained by no other strength than that of faith in Christ. 


1. What shall we then say that 1. Quid ergo dicemus, invenisse 
Abraham, our father as pertaining Abraham patrem nostrum secundum 
to the flesh, hath found ? carnem ? 

2. For if Abraham were justified 2. Si enim Abraham ex operibus 
I'.y works, he hath whereof to glory, justificatus est, habet quo glorietur, 
but not before God. sed non apud Deum. 

3. For what saith the scripture ? 3. Quid enim Scriptura dicit ? 
Abraham believed God, and it was Credidit Abraham Deo, et iinputa- 
counted unto him for righteousness. 1 turn est illi in justitiam. 

the law condemns ; it yet effects this without relaxing or dishonouring the 
law, but in a way that renders it, if possible, more binding, and more 
honourable, and more illustrious. It only renders the passage more intri- 
cate to include the ceremonial law, (for that has more of faith than of law 
in it,) to which no reference is made in the context : but there seems to be 
no objection to include the law of conscience, as well as the written law ; 
for faith confirms both, and the word " law," is here without the article, 
though this indeed of itself is not decisive. The moral law, then, as well 
as the law of conscience, is what is here intended : for the authority of both 
is confirmed and strengthened by faith. — Ed. 

1 This chapter, as Turrettin observes, divides itself into three parts. 


1 . What then, &c. This is a confirmation by example ; 
and it is a very strong one, since all things are alike with 
regard to the subject and the person ; for he was the father 
of the faithful, to whom we ought all to be conformed ; and 
there is also but one way and not many ways by which 
righteousness may be obtained by all. In many other things 
one example would not be sufficient to make a common rule ; 
but as in the person of Abraham there was exhibited a 
mirror and pattern of righteousness, which belongs in com- 
mon to the whole Church, rightly does Paul apply what has 
been written of him alone to the whole body of the Church, 
and at the same time he gives a check to the Jews, who had 
nothing more plausible to glory in than that they were the 
children of Abraham ; and they could not have dared to 
claim to themselves more holiness than what they ascribed 
to the holy patriarch. Since it is then evident that he was 
justified freely, his posterity, who claimed a righteousness of 
their own by the law, ought to have been made silent even 
through shame. 

According to the flesh, &c. Between this clause and the 
word father there is put in Paul's text the verb evpw/cevai, 
in this order — " What shall we say that Abraham our father 
has found according to the flesh V On this account, some 
interpreters think that the question is — " What has Abraham 
obtained according to the flesh?" If this exposition be ap- 
proved, the words according to the flesh mean naturally or 
from himself. It is, however, probable that they are to be 
connected with the word father} Besides, as we are wont 
to be more touched by domestic examples, the dignity of 
their race, in which the Jews took too much pride, is here 

The first from 1 to 12 inclusive; the second from 18 to 17 inclusive, in 
which it is proved that the promises made to Abraham did not depend on 
the law ; and the third from 18 to the end, in which the faith of Abraham 
is commended, and the Christian faith briefly referred to. 

But Parens makes a different division : 1, Four proofs of justification 
by faith, from 1 to 16 ; 2, The dispensation of Abraham, from 17 to 22 ; 
3, The application of the subject, from 23 to 25. — Ed. 

1 So did all the fathers according to Parens, and so does the Vulgate. 
But later commentators have taken the words as they stand, and with good 
reason, for otherwise the correspondence between this and the following 
verse would not be apparent. Beza, Hammond, and Macknight take the 

154 "commentaries on the chap. iv. 2. 

again expressly mentioned. But some regard this as spoken 
in contempt, as they are elsewhere called the carnal children 
of Abraham, being not so spiritually or in a legitimate sense. 
But I think that it was expressed as a thing peculiar to the 
Jews ; for it was a greater honour to be the children of 
Abraham by nature and descent, than by mere adoption, 
provided there was also faith. He then concedes to the Jews 
a closer bond of union, but only for this end — that he might 
more deeply impress them that they ought not to depart 
from the example of their father. 

2. For if Abraham, &c. This is an incomplete argument, 1 
which may be made in this form — " If Abraham was justified 
by works, he might justly glory : but he had nothing for 
which he could glory before God ; then he was not justified 
by works." Thus the clause but not before God, is the minor 
proposition ; and to this must be added the conclusion which 
I have stated, though it is not expressed by Paul. He calls 
that glorying when we pretend to have anything of our own 
to which a reward is supposed to be due at God's tribunal. 

words in their proper order ; and this is what is done by the Syriac and 
Arabic versions. 

Kara /ragxa is rendered by Grotius and Macknight, " by (per) the flesh." 
Some understand by the word " flesh," circumcision, as Vatablus ; others, 
natural powers, as Grotius, But Beza and Hammond think that it is the 
same as what is meant "by works" in the next verse; and "flesh" evi- 
dently has this meaning : it signifies often the performance of what the 
law requires, the observance not only of ceremonial but also of moral duties. 
See Gal. iii. 3 ; vi. 12 ; and especially Phil. hi. 3, 4 ; where Paid gives up 
" all confidence in the flesh" and enumerates, among other things, his strict 
conformity to the law. — Ed. 

1 Epicheirema ; in Greek ect-^e/^/-*», an attempted but an unfinished 
process of reasoning. It is not necessary to introduce this sort of syllogism, 
it being not the character of Scripture nor of any other writing to discuss 
matters in this form. 

The word for " glorying " here, ««^n/t», is different from that in ch. 
iii. 27, **6%nmt f and means reason, ground, or cause for glorying, and is 
rendered by Grotius " unde laudem sperct — whereby he may hope for 
praise ;" and by Beza and Piscator " uncle glorietur — whereby he may 
glory." To complete the following clause, most repeat the words Ifjgw 
xuvxripa. — " But he has no ground for glorying before God." Vatablus 
gives another meaning, " But not with regard to God," that is, with regard 
to what he has said in his word ; and this view is confirmed by what im- 
mediately follows, "For what saith the Scripture ? " In this case there is 
nothing understood. That ^eh fo'ov is used in a similar manner, is evident 
from other passages : ra v^is foiv — "things which pertain to God," i.e., to 
God's work or service. See Ileb. ii. 17 ; v. 1. — Ed. 


Since he takes this away from Abraham, who of us can claim 
for himself the least particle of merit ? 

3. For what saiih the Scripture ? This is a proof of the mi- 
nor proposition, or of what he assumed, when he denied that 
Abraham had any ground for glorying : for if Abraham was 
justified, because he embraced, by faith, the bountiful mercy 
of God, it follows, that he had nothing to glory in ; for he 
brought nothing of his own, except a confession of his misery, 
which is a solicitation for mercy. He, indeed, takes it as 
granted, that the righteousness of faith is the refuge, and, 
as it were, the asylum of the sinner, who is destitute of 
works. For if there be any righteousness by the law or by 
works, it must be in men themselves ; but by faith they derive 
from another what is wanting in themselves ; and hence the 
righteousness of faith is rightly called imputative. 

The passage, which is quoted, is taken from Gen. xv. 6 ; 
in which the word believe is not to be confined to any par- 
ticular expression, but it refers to the whole covenant of sal- 
vation, and the grace of adoption, which Abraham appre- 
hended by faith. There is, indeed, mentioned there the 
promise of a future seed ; but it was grounded on gratuitous 
adoption r 1 and it ought to be observed, that salvation with- 
out the grace of God is not promised, nor God's grace with- 
out salvation ; and again, that we are not called to the grace 
of God nor to the hope of salvation, without having right- 
eousness offered to us. 

Taking this view, we cannot but see that those understand 
not the principles of theology, who think that this testi- 
mony recorded by Moses, is drawn aside from its obvious 
meaning by Paul : for as there is a particular promise there 
stated, they understand that he acted rightly and faithfully 
in believing it, and was so far approved by God. But they 
are in this mistaken ; first, because they have not considered 
that believing extends to. the whole context, and ought not 

1 The adoption is evidently included in the words, found in the first verse 
of this chapter, " I am thy shield and thy exceeding great reward." What 
follows is connected with this, and the promise of a numerous seed arose 
from what Abraham said respecting an heir. His believing them had an 
especial regard to the first promise, as the second, respecting his " seed," 
was only, as it were, an enlargement of the first, or an addition to it. — Ed. 


to be confined to one clause. But the principal mistake is, 
that they begin not with the testimony of God's favour. 
But God gave this, to make Abraham more assured of his 
adoption and paternal favour ; and included in this was 
eternal salvation by Christ. Hence Abraham, by believing, 
embraced nothing but the favour offered to him, being per- 
suaded that it would not be void. Since this was imputed 
to him for righteousness, it follows, that he was not other- 
wise just, than as one trusting in God's goodness, and ven- 
turing to hope for all things from him. Moses does not, in- 
deed, tell us what men thought of him, but how he Avas ac- 
counted before the tribunal of God. Abraham then laid hold 
on the benignity of God offered to him in the promise, 
through which he understood that righteousness was commu- 
nicated to him. It is necessary, in order to form an opinion 
of righteousness, to understand this relation between the 
promise and faith ; for there is in this respect the same con- 
nection between God and us, as there is, according to the 
lawyers, between the giver and the person to whom any thing 
is given, (datorem et donatarium — the donor and the donee:) 
for we can no otherwise attain righteousness, than as it is 
brought to us, as it were, by the promise of the gospel ; and 
we realize its possession by faith. 1 

How to reconcile what James says, which seems sorae- 

1 The foregoing observations contain a lucid and a satisfactory view of 
the character of Abraham's faith, perfectly consistent with what is said of 
it by Paul in this chapter, and in the epistle to the Galatians. Some think 
that the principle, of faith was the only thing which the Apostle had in 
view in referring to Abraham's faith, and that he had no special regard to 
the object of justifying faith, that is, Christ. But that Christ was, in a 
measure, revealed to him, is evident from the account given in Genesis, 
and from what Christ himself has said, — that Abraham saw his day and 
rejoiced, John viii. 56. At the same time it was the promise of gratuitous 
mercy, as Calvin intimates, that formed the most distinctive object of 
Abraham's faith,, the promise of a free acceptance, without any regard to 
works. There are two things which the Apostle clearly intended to show, 
— that imputation of righteousness is an act of gratuitous favour, — and 
that it is alone by faith. 

There is some difference in the wording, though not in the meaning, of 
the sentence from Gen. xv. 6. Paul gives it literally according to the 
Septuagint. The word " Abraham," is put in ; instead of " Jehovah," it 
is " God ;" the verb " count," is made passive, and a preposition is placed 
before " righteousness." The Hebrew is this, — " And he believed on Je- 
hovah, and he counted it to him righteousness." The " it," no doubt, refers 


what contrary to this view, I have already explained, and 
intend to explain more fully, when I come, if the Lord will 
permit, to expound that Epistle. 

Only let us remember this, — that those to whom right- 
eousness is imputed, are justified ; since these two things 
are mentioned by Paul as being the same. We hence con- 
clude, that the question is not, what men are in themselves, 
but how God regards them ? not that purity of conscience 
and integrity of life are to be separated from the gratuitous 
favour of God ; but that when the reason is asked, why God 
loves us and owns us as just, it is necessary that Christ 
should come forth as one who clothes us with his own right- 

4. Now to him that worketh is 4. Ei quidem qui operatur merces 
the reward not reckoned of grace, non imputatur secundum gratiam, 
but of debt. sed secundum debitum : 

5. But to him that worketh not, 5. Ei vero qui non operatur, credit 
but believeth on him that justifieth autem in eum qui justificat impium, 
the ungodly, his faith is counted for imputatur fides sua in justitiam. 

4. To him indeed who works, &c. It is not he, whom he 
calls a worker, who is given to good works, to which all the 
children of God ought to attend, but the person who seeks 
to merit something by his works : and in a similar way he 
calls him no worker who depends not on the merit of what 
he does. He would not, indeed, have the faithful to be idle ; 
but he only forbids them to be mercenaries, so as to demand 
any thing from God, as though it were justly their due. 

to what is included in the word " believed." So Paul explains it in ver. 9, 
where he expressly puts down *■/*«?, faith. 

It has been said that this faith of Abraham was not faith in Christ, ac- 
cording to what the context shows in Genesis. And it was not so specifi- 
cally : nor does Paul represent it as such ; for this was not his object. 
He states it throughout as faith in God ; it was believing the testimony of 
God ; but that testimony embraced a promise respecting Christ ; so that 
it included the Saviour within its compass. We must remember that 
Paul's object is to establish this truth, — that righteousness is attained by 
faith and not by works ; and that for this end he adduces the examples 
both of Abraham and David. It was not his design to point out specifi- 
cally the object of justifying faith. We must keep this in view, in order to 
understand the reasoning of the Apostle in this chapter : it is the power 
and efficacy of faith, in opposition to all works, that he particularly dwells 
upon; and the gracious promise of God was its object. — Ed. 


"We have before reminded you, that the question is not 
here how we are to regulate our life, but how we are to be 
saved : and he argues from what is contrary, — that God con- 
fers not righteousness on us because it is due, but bestows it 
as a gift. And indeed I agree with Bucer, who proves that 
the argument is not made to depend on one expression, but 
on the whole passage, and formed in this manner, " If one 
merits any thing by his work, what is merited is not freely 
imputed to him, but rendered to him as his due. Faith is 
counted for righteousness, not that it procures any merit for 
us, but because it lays hold on the goodness of God : hence 
righteousness is not due to us, but freely bestowed." For as 
Christ of his own good-will justifies us through faith, Paul 
always regards this as an evidence of our emptiness ; for what 
do we believe, except that Christ is an expiation to recon- 
cile us to God ? The same truth is found in other words in 
Gal. iii. 11, where it is said, "That no man is justified by 
the law, it is evident, for the just shall by faith live : but the 
law is not by faith ; but he who doeth these things shall live 
in them." Inasmuch, then, as the law promises reward to 
works, he hence concludes, that the righteousness of faith, 
which is free, accords not with that which is operative : this 
could not be were faith to justify by means of works. — "We 
ought carefully to observe these comparisons, by which every 
merit is entirely done away. 

5. But believes on him, &c. This is a very important sen- 
tence, in which he expresses the substance and nature both 
of faith and of righteousness. He indeed clearly shews that 
faith brings us righteousness, not because it is a meritorious 
act, but because it obtains for us the favour of God. 1 Nor 
does he declare only that God is the giver of righteousness, 

1 Some have stumbled at this sentence, — " his faith is counted for right- 
eousness," and have misapplied it, as though faith were in itself the cause 
of righteousness, and hence a meritorious act, and not the way and means 
of attaining righteousness. Condensed sentences will not submit to the 
rules of logic, but must be interpreted according to the context and ex- 
planations elsewhere found. " His faith " means, no doubt, his faith in 
the Promise, or in God who promises, or in him who, as is said in this 
verse, "justifies the ungodly :" hence what is believed, or the object of 
faith, is what is counted for righteousness. This accords with the decla- 
rations, — that " man is justified by faith," ch. iii. 28, — and that " the 


but he also arraigns us of unrighteousness, in order that the 
bounty of God may come to aid our necessity : in short, no 
one will seek the righteousness of faith except he who feels 
that he is ungodly ; for this sentence is to be applied to 
what is said in this passage, — that faith adorns us with the 
righteousness of another, which it seeks as a gift from God. 
And here again, God is said to justify us when he freely for- 
gives sinners, and favours those, with whom he might justly 
be angry, with his love, that is, when his mercy obliterates 
our unrighteousness. 

6. Even as David also describeth 6. Quemadmodum etiam David 
the blessedness of the man, imto finit beatudinem hominis, cui Deus 
whom God imputeth righteousness imputat justitiam absque operibus, 
without works, 

7. Saying, Blessed are they whose 7. Beati quorum remisste sunt 
iniquities are forgiven, and whose iniquitates, et quorum tecta sunt 
sins are covered. peccata : 

8. Blessed is the man to whom the 8. Beatus vir, cui non imputavit 
Lord will not impute sin. Dominus peccatum. 

6. As David also defines, &c. We hence see the sheer 
sophistry of those who limit the works of the law to cere- 
monies ; for he now simply calls those works, without any- 
thing added, which he had before called the works of the 
law. Since no one can deny that a simple and unrestricted 
mode of speaking, such as we find here, ought to be under- 
stood of every work without any difference, the same view 
must be held throughout the whole argument. There is 
indeed nothing less reasonable than to remove from cere- 
monies only the power of justifying, since Paul excludes all 
works indefinitely. To the same purpose is the negative 
clause, — that God justifies men by not imputing sin : and 
by these words we are taught that righteousness, according 

righteousness of God" is "by faith," ch. iii. 22. If by faith, then faith 
itself is not that righteousness. 

" Beware/'' says Chalmers, " of having any such view of faith as will lead 
you to annex to it the kind of merit, or of claim, or of glorying under the 
gospel, which are annexed to works under the law. This, in fact, were 
just animating with a legal spirit the whole phraseology and doctrine of 
the gospel. It is God who justifies. He drew up the title-deed, and he 
bestowed the title-deed. It is ours simply to lay hold of it... Any other 
view of faith than that which excludes boasting must be altogether un- 
scriptural. " — Ed. 


to Paul, is nothing - else than the remission of sins ; and fur- 
ther, that this remission is gratuitous, because it is imputed 
without works, which the very name of remission indicates ; 
for the creditor who is paid does not remit, but he who spon- 
taneously cancels the debt through mere kindness. Away, 
then, with those who teach us to redeem pardon for our sins 
by satisfactions ; for Paul borrows an argument from this 
pardon to prove the gratuitous gift of righteousness. 1 How 
then is it possible for them to agree with Paul ? They say, 
" We must satisfy by works the justice of God, that we may 
obtain the pardon of our sins :" but he, on the contrary, 
reasons thus, — " The righteousness of faith is gratuitous, and 
without works, because it depends on the remission of sins." 
Vicious, no doubt, would be this reasoning, if any works 
interposed in the remission of sins. 

Dissipated also, in like manner, by the words of the Pro- 
phet, are the puerile fancies of the schoolmen respecting half 
remission. Their childish fiction is, — that though the fault 
is remitted, the punishment is still retained by God. But 
the Prophet not only declares that our sins are covered, 
that is, removed from the presence of God ; but also adds, 
that they are not imputed. How can it be consistent, that 
God should punish those sins which he does not impute ? 
Safe then does this most glorious declaration remain to us — 
" That he is justified by faith, who is cleared before God by 
a gratuitous remission of his sins/' We may also hence 
learn, the unceasing perpetuity of gratuitous righteousness 

1 Speaking of this righteousness, Parens says, " It is not ours, otherwise 
God would not gratuitously impute it, but bestow it as a matter of right ; 
nor is it a habit or quality, for it is without works, and imputed to the 
ungodly, who have habitually nothing but iniquities ; but it is a gratuitous 
remission, a covering, a non-imputation of sins." 

It is a striking proof of what the Apostle had in view here, that he stops 
short and does not quote the whole verse from Ps. xxxii. 2. He leaves 
out, " and in whose spirit there is no guile :" and why ? Evidently because 
his subject is justification, and not sanctification. He has thus most clearly 
marked the difference between the two. 

Sins may be said to be " forgiven " or remitted, because they are debts, 
and " covered," because they are filthy and abominable in the sight of 
God : and they are said to be " not imputed," or not put to one's account, 
in order to convey an assurance, that they are wholly removed, and shall be 
no more remembered. — Ed. 


through life : for when David, being wearied with the con- 
tinual anguish of his own conscience, gave utterance to this 
declaration, he no doubt spoke according to his own experi- 
ence ; and he had now served God for many years. He 
then had found by experience, after having made great 
advances, that all are miserable when summoned before 
God's tribunal ; and he made this avowal, that there is no 
other way of obtaining blessedness, except the Lord receives 
us into favour by not imputing our sins. Thus fully refuted 
also is the romance of those who dream, that the righteous- 
ness of faith is but initial, and that the faithful afterwards 
retain by works the possession of that righteousness which 
they had first attained by no merits. 

It invalidates in no degree what Paul says, that works are 
sometimes imputed for righteousness, and that other kinds 
of blessedness are mentioned. It is said in Ps. cvi. SO, that 
it was imputed to Phinehas, the Lord's priest, for righteous- 
ness, because he took away reproach from Israel by inflict- 
ing punishment on an adulterer and a harlot. It is true, 
we learn from this passage, that he did a righteous deed ; 
but we know that a person is not justified by one act. What 
is indeed required is perfect obedience, and complete in all 
its parts, according to the import of the promise, — " He 
who shall do these things shall live in them." (Deut. iv. 1.) 
How then was this judgment which he inflicted imputed to 
him for righteousness ? He must no doubt have been pre- 
viously justified by the grace of God : for they who are 
already clothed in the righteousness of Christ, have God not 
only propitious to them, but also to their works, the spots 
and blemishes of which are covered by the purity of Christ, 
lest they should come to judgment. As works, infected with 
no defilements, are alone counted just, it is quite evident 
that no human work whatever can please God, except through 
a favour of this kind. But if the righteousness of faith is 
the only reason why our works are counted just, you see 
how absurd is the argument, — " That as righteousness is 
ascribed to works, righteousness is not by faith only." But 
I set against them this invincible argument, that all works 


are to be condemned as those of unrighteousness, except a 
man be justified solely by faith. 

The like is said of blessedness : they are pronounced 
blessed who fear the Lord, who walk in his ways, (Ps. cxxviii. 
1,) who meditate on his law day and night, (Ps. i. 2 :) but 
as no one doeth these things so perfectly as he ought, so as 
fully to come up to God's command, all blessedness of this 
kind is nothing worth, until we be made blessed by being 
purified and cleansed through the remission of sins, and 
thus cleansed, that we may become capable of enjoying that 
blessedness which the Lord promises to his servants for atten- 
tion to the law and to good works. Hence the righteous- 
ness of works is the effect of the righteousness of God, and 
the blessedness arising from works is the effect of the bless- 
edness which proceeds from the remission of sins. Since 
the cause ought not and cannot be destroyed by its own 
effect, absurdly do they act, who strive to subvert the right- 
eousness of faith by works. 

But some one may say, " "Why may we not maintain, on 
the ground of these testimonies, that man is justified and 
made blessed by works ? for the words of Scripture declare 
that man is justified and made blessed by works as well as 
by faith." Here indeed we must consider the order of 
causes as well as the dispensation of God's grace : for inas- 
much as whatever is declared, either of the righteousness of 
works or of the blessedness arising from them, does not exist, 
until this only true righteousness of faith has preceded, and 
does alone discharge all its offices, this last must be built up 
and established, in order that the other may, as a fruit from 
a tree, grow from it and flourish. 

9. Cometh this blessedness then 9. Beatudo ergo ista in circura- 
uponthe circumcision only? or upon cisionem niodo, an et in prseputium 

1 This " only" is not in the original, but is supplied by most commenta- 
tors : yet it is not necessary, nor makes the meaning consistent with what 
follows in ver. 10. The K«i in the next clause is omitted in many copies; 
but if retained, it will not alter the sense. We may render this part of 
the verse thus, 

" Came then this blessedness on the circumcision, or even on the uncir- 
cumcision ? " 

Then in the tenth verse he answers in the negative, — that it was not 


the uncircumcision also ? for we say competit ? Dicimus enim quod im- 

that faith was reckoned to Abraham putata fuit Abrahse fides in justi- 

for righteousness. tiam. 

10. How was it then reckoned ? 10. Quomodo igitur imputata 

when he was in circumcision, or in fuit ? in circumcisione quum esset, 

uncircumcision? Not in circumcision, an in prseputio ? non in circumci- 

but in uncircumcision. sione, sed in prseputio. 

As circumcision and uncircumcision are alone mentioned, 
some unwisely conclude, that the only question is, that 
righteousness is not attained by the ceremonies of the law. 
But we ought to consider what sort of men were those with 
whom Paul was reasoning ; for we know that hypocrites, 
whilst they generally boast of meritorious works, do yet dis- 
guise themselves in outward masks. The Jews also had a 
peculiar way of their own, by which they departed, through 
a gross abuse of the law, from true and genuine righteous- 
ness. Paul had said, that no one is blessed but he whom 
God reconciles to himself by a gratuitous pardon ; it hence 
follows, that all are accursed, whose works come to judgment. 
Now then this principle is to be held, that men are justified, 
not by their own worthiness, but by the mercy of God. But 
still, this is not enough, except remission of sins precedes 
all works, and of these the first was circumcision, which 
initiated the Jewish people into the service of God. He 
therefore proceeds to demonstrate this also. 

We must ever bear in mind, that circumcision is here 
mentioned as the initial work, so to speak, of the righteous- 
ness of the law : for the Jews gloried not in it as the symbol 
of God's favour, but as a meritorious observance of the law : 
and on this account it was that they regarded themselves 
better than others, as though they possessed a higher ex- 
cellency before God. We now see that the dispute is not 
about one rite, but that under one thing is included every 
work of the law ; that is, every work to which reward can 
be due. Circumcision then was especially mentioned, be- 
cause it was the basis of the righteousness of the law. 

to Abraham while " in circumcision," but while he was " in uncircumci- 
sion." The reference is evidently to the first state of things, to the case 
of Abraham himself. Abraham is supposed to have been justified by faith 
about fourteen years before he was circumcised. — Ed. 


But Paul maintains the contrary, and thus reasons : " If 
Abraham's righteousness was the remission of sins, (which 
he safely takes as granted,) and if Abraham attained this 
before circumcision, it then follows that remission of sins is 
not given for preceding merits." You see that the argument 
rests on the order of causes and effects ; for the cause is al- 
ways before its effect ; and righteousness was possessed by 
Abraham before he had circumcision. 

11. And he received the sign of 11. Et signum accepit circumci- 
circumeision, a seal of the righteous- sionis, sigillum justitise fidei quae 
ness of the faith which he had yet fuerat in prseputio ; ut esset pater 
being uncircumcised : that he might omnium credentium per praepu- 
be the father of all them that be- tium, quo ipsis quoque imputetur 
lieve, though they be not circum- justitia ; 

cised ; that righteousness might be 
imputed unto them also : 

12. And the father of circumci- 12. Et pater circumcisionis, non 
sion to them who are not of the cir- iis qui sunt ex circumcisione tantum, 
cumcision only, but who also walk sed qui insistunt vestigiis fidei, quee 
in the steps of that faith of our fa- fuit in prseputio patris nostri Abra- 
ther Abraham, which he had being hse. 

yet uncircumcised. 

11. And he received the sign, &c. In order to anticipate 
an objection, he shows that circumcision was not unprofitable 
and superfluous, though it could not justify ; but it had an- 
other very remarkable use, it had the office of sealing, and 
as it were of ratifying the righteousness of faith. And yet 
he intimates at the same time, by stating what its object was, 
that it was not the cause of righteousness, it indeed tended 
to confirm the righteousness of faith, and that already ob- 
tained in uncircumcision. He then derogates or takes away 
nothing from it. 

We have indeed here a remarkable passage with regard 
to the general benefits of sacraments. According to the 
testimony of Paul, they are seals by which the promises of 
God are in a manner imprinted on our hearts, {Dei promis- 
siones cordibus nostris quodammodo imprimuntur.) and the 
certainty of grace confirmed (sancitur gratice certitudo.) 
And though by themselves they profit nothing, yet God has 
designed them to be the instruments (instrumenta) of his 
grace ; and he effects by the secret grace of his Spirit, that 


they should not be without benefit in the elect. And though 
they are dead and unprofitable symbols to the reprobate, 
they yet ever retain their import and character (vim suam 
et naturam ;) for though our unbelief may deprive them of 
their effect, yet it cannot weaken or extinguish the truth of 
God. Hence it remains a fixed principle, that sacred sym- 
bols are testimonies, by which God seals his grace on our 

As to the symbol of circumcision, this especially is to be 
said, that a twofold grace was represented by it. God had 
promised to Abraham a blessed seed, from whom salvation 
was to be expected by the whole world. On this depended 
the promise — " I will be to thee a God." (Gen. xvii. 7.) 
Then a gratuitous reconciliation with God was included in 
that symbol : and for this reason it was necessary that the 
faithful should look forward to the promised seed. On the 
other hand, God requires integrity and holiness of life ; he 
indicated by the symbol how this could be attained, that 
is, by cutting off in man whatever is born of the flesh, for 
his whole nature had become vicious. He therefore reminded 
Abraham by the external sign, that he was spiritually to cut 
off the corruption of the flesh ; and to this Moses has also 
alluded in Deut. x. 16. And to show that it was not the 
work of man, but of God, he commanded tender infants to 
be circumcised, who, on account of their age, could not have 
performed such a command. Moses has indeed expressly 
mentioned spiritual circumcision as the work of divine power, 
as you will find in Deut. xxx. 6, where he says, " The Lord 
will circumcise thine heart:" and the Prophets afterwards 
declared the same thing much more clearly. 

As there are two points in baptism now, so there were 
formerly in circumcision ; for it was a symbol of a new life, 
and also of the remission of sins. But the fact as to Abra- 
ham himself, that righteousness preceded circumcision, is 
not always the case in sacraments, as it is evident from the 
case of Isaac and his posterity: but God intended to give 
such an instance once at the beginning, that no one might 
ascribe salvation to external signs. 1 
1 The word " sign" in this passage, <r>ip.t7<>v, seems not to mean an out- 


That he might be the father, &c. Mark how the circumci- 
sion of Abraham confirms our faith with regard to gratui- 
tous righteousness ; for it was the sealing of the righteousness 
of faith, that righteousness might also be imputed to us 
who believe. And thus Paul, by a remarkable dexterity, 
makes to recoil on his opponents what they might have ad- 
duced as an objection : for since the truth and import (yeritas 
et vis) of circumcision were found in an uncircumcised state, 
there was no ground for the Jews to elevate themselves so 
much above the Gentiles. 

But as a doubt might arise, whether it behoves us, after 
the example of Abraham, to confirm also the same right- 
eousness by the sign of circumcision, how came the Apostle 
to make this omission ? Even because he thought that the 
question was sufficiently settled by the drift of his argu- 
ment : for as this truth had been admitted, that circumci- 
sion availed only to seal the grace of God, it follows, that it 
is now of no benefit to us, who have a sign instituted in its 
place by our Lord. As then there is no necessity now for 
circumcision, where baptism is, he was not disposed to con- 
tend unnecessarily for that respecting which there was no 
doubt, that is, why the righteousness of faith was not sealed 
to the Gentiles in the same way as it was to Abraham. To 
believe in uncircumcision means, that the Gentiles, being satis- 
fied with their own condition, did not introduce the seal of 
circumcision : and so the proposition 8ia, by, is put for ev, in. 1 

ward token of something inward, but a mark, circumcision itself, which 
was imprinted, as it were, as a mark in the flesh. So Macknight renders 
it, " The mark of circumcision." That circumcision was a sign or a sym- 
bol of what was spiritual, is evident : but this is not what is taught here. 
Circumcision is expressly called " a token," or a sign, in Gen. xvii. 11 ; 
but it is said to have been " a token of the covenant," that is, a proof and 
an evidence of it. The design of circumcision is expressed by the next 
word, trtpzayfia. — seal. This sometimes signified the instrument, 1 Kings 
xxi. 8 ; and sometimes the impression, Rev. v. 1 : and the impression 
was used for various purposes, — to close up a document, to secure a thing, 
and also to confirm an agreement. It is taken here in the latter sense ; 
circumcision was a " seal," a confirmation, an evidence, a proof, or a 
pledge, " of the righteousness" obtained " by faith." We meet not with 
any distinct statement of this kind in Genesis : it is what the Apostle had 
gathered, and rightly gathered, from the account given lis of what took 
place between God and Abraham. — Ed. 

1 See a similar instance in chap. ii. 27. — Ed. 


12. To them who are not, &c. The verb, are, is in this 
place to be taken for, " are deemed to be :" for he touches 
the carnal descendants of Abraham, who, having nothing but 
outward circumcision, confidently gloried in it. The other 
thing, which was the chief matter, they neglected ; for the 
faith of Abraham, by which alone he obtained salvation, 
they did not imitate. It hence appears, how carefully he 
distinguished between faith and the sacrament ; not only 
that no one might be satisfied with the one without the 
other, as though it were sufficient for justifying ; but also 
that faith alone might be set forth as accomplishing every- 
thing : for while he allows the circumcised Jews to be justi- 
fied, he expressly makes this exception — provided in true 
faith they followed the example of Abraham ; for why does 
he mention faith while in uncircumcision, except to show, 
that it is alone sufficient, without the aid of anything else? 
Let us then beware, lest any of us, by halving things, blend 
together the two modes of justification. 

What we have stated disproves also the scholastic dogma 
respecting the difference between the sacraments of the Old 
and those of the New Testament ; for they deny the power 
of justifying to the former, and assign it to the latter. But 
if Paul reasons correctly, when he argues that circumcision 
does not justify, because Abraham Avas justified by faith, the 
same reason holds good for us, while we deny that men are 
justified by baptism, inasmuch as they are justified by the 
same faith with that of Abraham. 

13. For the promise, that he should be 13. Non enim per Legem 

the heir of the world, was not to Abraham, promissio Abrahse et semini 

or to his seed, through the law, but ejus data est, ut esset hseres 

through the righteousness of faith. mundi ; sed per justitiam fidei. 

13. For the promise, &c. He now more clearly sets the 
law and faith in opposition, the one to the other, which he 
had before in some measure done ; and this ought to be 
carefully observed : for if faith borrows nothing from the law 
in order to justify, we hence understand, that it has respect 
to nothing else but to the mercy of Grod. And further, the 
romance of those who would have this to have been said of 


ceremonies, may be easily disproved ; for if works contri- 
buted anything towards justification, it ought not to have 
been said, through the written law, but rather, through the 
law of nature. But Paul does not oppose spiritual holiness 
of life to ceremonies, but faith and its righteousness. The 
meaning then is, that heirship was promised to Abraham, 
not because he deserved it by keeping the law, but because 
he had obtained righteousness by faith. And doubtless (as 
Paul will presently show) consciences can then only enjoy 
solid peace, when they know that what is not justly due is 
freely given them. 1 

Hence also it follows, that this benefit, the reason for 
which applies equally to both, belongs to the Gentiles no 
less than to the Jews ; for if the salvation of men is based 
on the goodness of God alone, they check and hinder its 
course, as much as they can, who exclude from it the Gen- 

That he should be the heir of the world, 2 &c. Since he now 

1 Critics have differed as to the disjunctive %, or, " or to his seed." 
Some think it is put for *«!, and : hut Pareus thinks that it has a special 
meaning, intended to anticipate an objection. The Jews might have said, 
" If the case with Abraham is as stated, it is not so with his seed who re- 
ceived the law." Yes, says Paul, there is no difference, " The promise to 
Abraham, or to his seed, to whom the law was actually given, was not by 
the law." 

Hammond renders the whole verse more literally than in our version, — 
" The promise to Abraham or to his seed, that he should be the heir of 

the world, was not by the law, but through the righteousness of faith." — 


2 There is in Genesis no expression conveyed in these words ; but the 
probability is, that he intended to express in another form what he dis- 
tinctly quotes in verse I7th, " I have made thee a father of many nations." 

The word " father," in this case, has been commonly understood to 
mean a leader, a pattern, a model, an exemplar, a forerunner, as Abraham 
was the first believer justified by faith, of whom there is an express record. 
But the idea seems to be somewhat different. He was a father as the first 
possessor of an inheritance which was to descend to all his children. The 
inheritance was given him by grace through faith ; it was to descend, as it 
were, to all his lawful posterity, to all his legitimate seed, that is, to all who 
possessed the like faith with himself. He is therefore called the father of 
many nations, because many nations would become his legitimate heirs by 
becoming believers ; and in the same sense must be regarded the expres- 
sion here, " the heir of the world ;" he was the representative of all the 
believing world, and made an heir of an inheritance which was to come to 
the world in general, to the believing Jews and to the believing Gentiles. 
He was the heir, the first possessor, of what was to descend to the world 


speaks of eternal salvation, the Apostle seems to have some- 
what unseasonably led his readers to the world ; but he in- 
cludes generally under this word world, the restoration which 
was exjjected through Christ. The chief thing was indeed the 
restoration of life ; it was yet necessary that the fallen state 
of the whole world should be repaired. The Apostle, in Heb. 
i. 2, calls Christ the heir of all the good things of God ; for 
the adoption which we obtain through his favour restores to 
us the possession of the inheritance which we lost in Adam ; 
and as under the type of the land of Canaan, not only the 
hope of a heavenly life was exhibited to Abraham, but also 
the full and complete blessing of God, the Apostle rightly 
teaches us, that the dominion of the world was promised to 
him. Some taste of this the godly have in the present life ; 
for how much soever they may at times be oppressed with 
want, yet as they partake with a peaceable conscience of 
those things which God has created for their use, and as 
they enjoy through his mercy and good-will his earthly 
benefits no otherwise than as pledges and earnests of eternal 
life, their poverty does in no degree prevent them from ac- 
knowledging heaven, and the earth, and the sea, as their 
own possessions. 

Though the ungodly swallow up the riches of the world, 
they can yet call nothing as their own ; but they rather 
snatch them as it were by stealth ; for they possess them 
under the curse of God. It is indeed a great comfort to the 
godly in their poverty, that though they fare slenderly, they 
yet steal nothing of what belongs to another, but receive 
their lawful allowance from the hand of their celestial 
Father, until they enter on the full possession of their in- 
heritance, when all creatures shall be made subservient to 
their glory ; for both heaven and earth shall be renewed for 
this end, — that according to their measure they may con- 
tribute to render glorious the kingdom of God. 

without any difference. He was the heir of the world in the same sense 
as he was " the father of all who believe," as he is said to have been in 
verse eleventh. 

The inheritance was doubtless eternal life or the heavenly kingdom, the 
country above, of which the land of Canaan was a type and a pledge. See 
Heb. xi. 12, 13, 16.— Ed. 


14. For if they which are of the law 14. Si enim ii qui sunt ex Lege 
be heirs, faith is made void, and the haeredes sunt, exinanita est fides 
promise made of none effect : et aholita est promissio : 

15. Because the law worketh wrath: 15. Nam Lex iram efncit ; siqui- 
for where no law is, there is no trans- dem ubi non est Lex, neque etiam 
gression. transgressio. 

14. For if they who are of the law, &c. He takes his 
argument from what is impossible or absurd, that the favour 
which Abraham obtained from God, was not promised to 
him through any legal agreement, or through any regard to 
works ; for if this condition had been interposed — that God 
would favour those only with adoption who deserved, or who 
performed the law, no one could have dared to feel confident 
that it belonged to him : for who is there so conscious of so 
much perfection that he can feel assured that the inherit- 
ance is due to him through the righteousness of the law ? 
Void then would faith be made ; for an impossible condition 
would not only hold the minds of men in suspense and 
anxiety, but fill them also with fear and trembling : and 
thus the fulfilment of the promises would be rendered void ; 
for they avail nothing but when received by faith. If our 
adversaries had ears to hear this one reason, the contest 
between us might easily be settled. 

The Apostle assumes it as a thing indubitable, that the 
promises would by no means be effectual except they were 
received with full assurance of mind. But what would be 
the case if the salvation of men was based on the keeping 
of the law ? consciences would have no certainty, but would 
be harassed with perpetual inquietude, and at length sink 
in despair ; and the promise itself, the fulfilment of which 
depended on what is impossible, would also vanish away 
without producing any fruit. Away then with those who 
teach the common people to seek salvation for themselves by 
works, seeing that Paul declares expressly, that the promise 
is abolished if we depend on works. But it is especially 
necessary that this should be known, — that when there is a 
reliance on works, faith is reduced to nothing. And hence 
we also learn what faith is, and what sort of righteousness 
ought that of works to be, in which men may safely trust. 

The Apostle teaches us, that faith perishes, except the 


soul rests on the goodness of God. Faith then is not a 
naked knowledge either of God or of his truth ; nor is it a 
simple persuasion that God is, that his word is the truth ; 
but a sure knowledge of God's mercy, which is received from 
the gospel, and brings peace of conscience with regard to 
God, and rest to the mind. The sum of the matter then is 
this, — that if salvation depends on the keeping of the law, 
the soul can entertain no confidence respecting it, yea, that 
all the promises oifered to us by God will become void : we 
must thus become wretched and lost, if we are sent back to 
works to find out the cause or the certainty of salvation. 

15. For the law causeth wrath, &c. This is a confirmation 
of the last verse, derived from the contrary effect of the law ; 
for as the law generates nothing but vengeance, it cannot 
bring grace. It can indeed show to the good and the per- 
fect the way of life : but as it prescribes to the sinful and 
corrupt what they ought to do, and supplies them with no 
power for doing, it exhibits them as guilty before the tribu- 
nal of God. For such is the viciousness of our nature, that 
the more we are taught what is right and just, the more 
openly is our iniquity discovered, and especially our con- 
tumacy, and thus a heavier judgment is incurred. 

By wrath, understand God's judgment, which meaning it 
has everywhere. They who explain it of the wrath of the 
sinner, excited by the law, inasmuch as he hates and exe- 
crates the Lawgiver, whom he finds to be opposed to his 
lusts, say what is ingenious, but not suitable to this passage; 
for Paul meant no other thing, than that condemnation only 
is what is brought on us all by the law, as it is evident from 
the common use of the expression, and also from the reason 
which he immediately adds. 

Where there is no law, &c. This is the proof, by which 
he confirms what he had said ; for it would have been diffi- 
cult to see how God's wrath is kindled against us through 
the law, unless it had been made more apparent. And the 
reason is, that as the knowledge of God's justice is discovered 
by the law, the less excuse we have, and hence the more 
grievously we offend against God ; for they who despise the 
known will of God, justly deserve to sustain a heavier punish- 


ment, than those who offend through ignorance. But the 
Apostle speaks not of the mere transgression of what is 
right, from which no man is exempt ; but he calls that a 
transgression, when man, having been taught what pleases 
and displeases God, knowingly and wilfully passes over the 
boundaries fixed by God's word ; or, in other words, trans- 
gression here is not a mere act of sin, but a wilful determi- 
nation to violate what is right. 1 The particle, ov, where, 
which I take as an adverb, some consider to be a relative, 
of which ; but the former reading is the most suitable, and 
the most commonly received. Whichever reading you may 
follow, the meaning will be the same, — that he who is not 
instructed by the written law, when he sins, is not guilty of 
so great a transgression, as he is who knowingly breaks and 
transgresses the law of God. 

16. Therefore it is of faith, that it 16. Propterea ex fide, ut secun- 
niight be by grace ; to the end the dum gratiam, quo firma sit pro- 
promise might be sure to all the seed ; missio uni verso semini non ei quod 
not to that only which is of the law, est ex Lege solum, sed quod est 
but to that also which is of the faith of ex fide Abrahse, qui est pater om- 
Abraham ; who is the father of us all, nium nostrum, 

17. (As it is written, I have made 17. (Sicut scriptum est, Quod 
thee a father of many nations,) before patrem multarum gentium posui 
him whom he believed, even God, te,) coram Deo, cui credidit, qui vi- 
who qnickeneth the dead, and calleth vificat mortuos et vocat ea quae non 
those things which be not as though sunt tanquam sint. 

they were. 

16. It is therefore of faith, &c. This is the winding up of 
the argument ; and you may summarily include the whole 

1 It is better to take this sentence, " Where there is no law, there is no 
transgression," according to its obvious meaning ; as it comports better 
with the former clause. The reasoning seems to be this, — " The promise 
is by faith, and not by the law ; for the law brings wrath or condemna- 
tion : but "where there is no law, there is no transgression to occasion 
wrath." The same idea is essentially conveyed in ver. 16, where it is said, 
that the promise is sure, because it is through faith and by grace. Had it 
been by the law, there would have been transgression and wrath, and hence 
the loss of the promise. 

This verse is connected with the 13th rather than with the 14th. It con- 
tains another reason, besides what the 14th gives, in confirmation of what is 
said in the 13th. Hence Macknight renders yag, in this verse, "farther," 
which renders the connection more evident. " Where no law is, there is 
no transgression, and therefore no wrath or punishment ; but where law is, 
there is transgression, wrath, and punishment." — Parens. 


of it in this statement, — " If the heirship of salvation comes 
to us by works, then faith in it vanishes, the promise of it 
is abolished ; but it is necessary that both these should be 
sure and certain ; hence it comes to us by faith, so that its 
stability, being based on the goodness of God alone, may be 
secured." See how the Apostle, regarding faith as a thing 
firm and certain, considers hesitancy and doubt as unbelief, 
by which faith is abolished, and the promise abrogated. 
And yet this doubting is what the schoolmen call a moral 
conjecture, and which, alas! they substitute for faith. 

That it might be by grace, &c. Here, in the first place, 
the Apostle shows, that nothing is set before faith but mere 
grace ; and this, as they commonly say, is its object : for 
were it to look on merits, absurdly would Paul infer, that 
whatever it obtains for us is gratuitous. I will repeat this 
again in other words, — " If grace be everything that we ob- 
tain by faith, then every regard for works is laid in the dust." 
But what next follows more fully removes all ambiguity, — 
that the promise then only stands firm, when it recumbs on 
grace : for by this expression Paul confirms this truth, that 
as long as men depend on works, they are harassed with 
doubts ; for they deprive themselves of what the promises 
contain. Hence, also, we may easily learn, that grace is not 
to be taken, as some imagine, for the gift of regeneration, 
but for a gratuitous favour : for as regeneration is never per- 
fect, it can never suffice to pacify souls, nor of itself can it 
make the promise certain. 

Not to that only which is of the law, &c. Though these words 
mean in another place those who, being absurd zealots of 
the law, bind themselves to its yoke, and boast of their con- 
fidence in it, yet here they mean simply the Jewish nation, 
to whom the law of the Lord had been delivered. For Paul 
teaches us in another passage, that all who remain bound to 
the dominion of the law, are subject to a curse ; it is then 
certain that they are excluded from the participation of 
grace. He does not then call them the servants of the law, 
who, adhering to the righteousness of works, renounce Christ; 
but they were those Jews who had been brought up in the 
law, and yet professed the name of Christ. But that the 


sentence may be made clearer, let it be worded thus, — " Not 
to those only who are of the law, but to all who imitate the 
faith of Abraham, though they had not the law before." 

Who is the father of us all, &c. The relative has the 
meaning of a causative particle ; for he meant to prove, that 
the Gentiles were become partakers of this grace, inasmuch 
as by the same oracle, by which the heirship was conferred 
on Abraham and his seed, were the Gentiles also constituted 
his seed : for he is said to have been made the father, not of 
one nation, but of many nations ; by which was presignified 
the future extension of grace, then confined to Israel alone. 
For except the promised blessing had been extended to 
them, they could not have been counted as the offspring of 
Abraham. The past tense of the verb, according to the 
common usage of Scripture, denotes the certainty of the 
Divine counsel ; for though nothing then was less apparent, 
yet as God had thus decreed, he is rightly said to have been 
made the father of many nations. Let the testimony of 
Moses be included in a parenthesis, that this clause, " Who 
is the father of us all," may be connected with the other, 
" before God," &c. : for it was necessary to explain also 
what that relationship was, that the Jews might not glory 
too much in their carnal descent. Hence he says, " He is 
our father before God ;" which means the same as though he 
had said, " He is our spiritual father ;" for he had this 
privilege, not from his own flesh, but from the promise of 
God. 1 

1 It appears from Pareus and Hammond, that some of the Fathers, 
such as Chrysostom and Theophylact, regarded ko.tUo.iti in the sense of 
ofio'ij;, like, and have rendered the passage, " like God, in whom he be- 
lieved ;" that is, that as God is not partial, but the Father of all, so Abra- 
ham was. But this meaning is not consistent with the import of kotUovti, 
nor with the context. The preposition is found in four other places, Mark 
xi. 2 ; xii. 41 ; xiii. 3 ; Luke xix. 30, and invariably means before, or, over 
against. The Septuagint use it in Num. xxv. 4, in the sense ofbefore, xari- 
vavTi tov nxiov — " before the sun," not " against the sun," as in our version ; 
for the word in Hebrew is *1J J, coram, in conspectu. The context also re- 
quires this meaning : Abraham was a father of many nations before God, 
or, in the view or estimation of God, and not in the view or estimation of 
men, because God, as it is said at the end of the verse, regards things 
which are not, as though they were. Hence Abraham was already in 
God's view, according to his purpose, the father of many nations. 

The collocation of the words is said by Wolfius to be an instance of Atti- 


17. Whom he believed, who quickens the dead, &c. In this 
circuitous form is expressed the very substance of Abraham's 
faith, that by his example an opening might be made for the 
Gentiles. He had indeed to attain, in a wonderful way, the 
promise which he had heard from the Lord's mouth, since 
there was then no token of it. A seed was promised to him 
as though he was in vigour and strength ; but he was as it 
were dead. It was hence necessary for him to raise up his 
thoughts to the power of God, by which the dead are 
quickened. It was therefore not strange that the Gentiles, 
who were barren and dead, should be introduced into the 
same society. He then who denies them to be capable of 
grace, does wrong to Abraham, whose faith was sustained by 
this thought, — that it matters not whether he was dead or 
not who is called by the Lord ; to whom it is an easy thing, 
even by a word, to raise the dead through his own power. 

We have here also a type and a pattern of the call of us 
all, by which our beginning is set before our eyes, not as to 
our first birth, but as to the hope of future life, — that when 
we are called by the Lord we emerge from nothing ; for 
whatever we may seem to be we have not, no, not a spark 
of anything good, which can render us fit for the kingdom of 
God. That we may indeed on the other hand be in a suit- 
able state to hear the call of God, we must be altogether 
dead in ourselves. The character of the divine calling is, 
that they who are dead are raised by the Lord, that they 
who are nothing begin to be something through his power. 
The word call ought not to be confined to preaching, but it 
is to be taken, according to the usage of Scripture, for rais- 
ing up ; and it is intended to set forth more fully the power 
of God, who raises up, as it were by a nod only, whom he 
wills. 1 

cism, the word Ssȣ, being separated from its preposition : and ǣ is put 
for a by the grammatical law of attraction ; and Stuart brings three simi- 
lar instances of the relative being regulated by the case of its noun, though 
preceding it in the sentence, Mark vi. 16 ; Acts xxi. 16 ; and Rom. vi. 17. 
1 The idea of commanding to existence, or of effecting, is given by many 
commentators to the word xakovvros ; but this seems not necessary. The 
simple notion of calling, naming, regarding, or representing, is more con- 
sistent with the passage, and with the construction of the sentence: and 
the various modes of rendering it, which critics have proposed, have arisen 


18. Who against hope believed in 18. Qui prater (vel supra) spem 

hope, that he might become the father super spe credidit, ut esset 1 pater 

of many nations, according to that multarum gentium, secundum quod 

which was spoken, So shall thy seed be. dictum erat, Sic erit semen tuum. 

18. Who against hope, &c. If we thus read, the sense is, 
that when there was no probable reason, yea, when all things 
were against him, he yet continued to believe. And, doubt- 
less, there is nothing more injurious to faith than to fasten 
our minds to our eyes, that we may from what we see, seek 
a reason for our hope. We may also read, " above hope," 
and perhaps more suitably; as though he had said that by 
his faith he far surpassed all that he could conceive ; for 
except faith flies upward on celestial wings, so as to look 
down on all the perceptions of the flesh as on things far be- 
low, it will stick fast in the mud of the world. But Paul 
uses the word hope twice in this verse : in the first in- 
stance, he means a probable evidence for hoping, such as can 
be derived from nature and carnal reason ; in the second, 
he refers to faith given by God f for when he had no ground 

from not taking the word in its most obvious meaning. The literal ver- 
sion is, " and who calls things not existing as existing," — xai xaXoufros to. 
fch «Wa as Hvra. The reference is evidently to the declaration, " I have 
made thee the father of many nations." This had then no real existence ; 
but God represents it as having an existence already. Far-fetched mean- 
ings are sometimes adopted, when the plainest and the most obvious is 
passed by. — Ed. 

1 " TJt esset :" this may indeed be rendered according to our version, 
" that lie might become ;" but the drift of the comment seems to favour the 
other view, that he believed that he should be, and not that he believed in 
order to be, or that he might be, the father of many nations ih -ro ytvivtai 
uurh ; " that he should be," is the rendering of Hammond, Doddridge, and 
Stuart ; and it is indeed what is consistent with the drift of the passage, 
and with what is recorded in Genesis. Wolfius says, that tU here does not 
signify the final cause, but the subject or the object of faith and hope ; 
Abraham believed the promise, that he should be the father of many 
nations. — Ed. 

2 This is a striking instance of the latitude of meaning which some 
words have in Scripture. Here hope, in the first instance, means the 
ground, of hope; and in the second, the object of hope. So faith, in verse 
5, and in other places, must be considered as including its object, the gra- 
cious promise of God ; for otherwise it will be a meritorious act, the very 
thing which the Apostle throughout repudiates with regard to man's jus- 
tification. Faith, as it lays hold on God's promise of free acceptance and 
forgiveness, can alone, in the very nature of things, be imputed for right- 
eousness : it is not indispensably necessary that the way, or medium, or 
the meritorious cause of acceptance and forgiveness, should be clearly 


for hoping he yet in hope relied on the promise of God ; and 
he thought it a sufficient reason for hoping, that the Lord 
had promised, however incredible the thing was in itself. 

According to what had been said, &c. So have I pre- 
ferred to render it, that it may be applied to the time of 
Abraham ; for Paul meant to say, that Abraham, when 
many temptations were drawing him to despair, that he 
might not fail, turned his thoughts to what had been pro- 
mised to him, " Thy seed shall equal the stars of heaven and 
the sands of the sea ;" but he designedly adduced this quo- 
tation incomplete, in order to stimulate us to read the Scrip- 
tures. The Apostles, indeed, at all times, in quoting the 
Scriptures, took a scrupulous care to rouse us to a more dili- 
gent reading of them. 

19. And being not weak in faith, 19. Ac fide minime debilitatus, 
he considered not his own body now non consideravit suum ipsius cor- 
dead, when he was about an hundred pus jam emortuum, centenarius 
years old, neither yet the deadness quum fere esset, nee emortuam vul- 
of Sarah's womb : vam Sarse : 

20. He staggered not at the pro- 20. Nee vero in Dei promissi- 
mise of God through unbelief ; but onem per incredulitatem disquisivit ; 
was strong in faith, giving glory to sed roboratus est fide, tribuens glo- 
God ; riam Deo ; 

21. And being fully persuaded, 21. Ac certe persuasus, quod ubi 
that what he had promised, he was quid promisit, possit etiam prse- 
able also to perform. stare. 

22. And therefore it was imputed 22. Ideo et imputatum illi est in 
to him for righteousness. justitiam. 

19. In faith, &c. If you prefer to omit one of the nega- 
tives you may render it thus, " Being weak in faith, he 
considered not his own body/' &c. ; but this makes no sense. 
He indeed shows now more fully what might have hindered, 
yea, and wholly turned Abraham aside from receiving the 
promise. A seed from Sarah was promised to him at a time 
when he was not by nature fit for generating, nor Sarah for 
conceiving. Whatever he could see as to himself was opposed 
to the accomplishment of the promise. Hence, that he might 
yield to the truth of God, he withdrew his mind from those 
things which presented themselves to his own view, and as 

known and distinctly seen ; the gracious presence of God is enough, so 
that faith may become a justifying faith. 



it were forgot himself. You are not however to think, that 
he had no regard whatever to his own body, now dead, since 
Scripture testifies to the contrary ; for he reasoned thus with 
himself. " Shall a child be born to a man an hundred years 
old ? and shall Sarah, who is ninety, bear a son V But as 
he laid aside the consideration of all this, and resigned his 
own judgment to the Lord, the Apostle says, that he con- 
sidered not, &c. ; and truly it was a greater effort to with- 
draw his thoughts from what of itself met his eyes, than if 
such a thing came into his mind. 

And that the body of Abraham was become through age 
incapable of generating, at the time he received the Lord's 
blessing, is quite evident from this passage, and also from 
Gen. xvii. and xviii., so that the opinion of Augustine is by 
no means to be admitted, who says somewhere, that the im- 
pediment was in Sarah alone. Nor ought the absurdity of 
the objection to influence us, by which he was induced to have 
recourse to this solution ; for he thought it inconsistent to 
suppose that Abraham in his hundredth year was incapable 
of generating, as he had afterwards many children. But by 
this very thing God rendered his power more visible, inas- 
much as he, who was before like a dry and barren tree, was 
so invigorated by the celestial blessing, that he not only 
begot Isaac, but, as though he was restored to the vigour of 
age, he had afterwards strength to beget others. But some 
one may object and say, that it is not beyond the course of 
nature that a man should beget children at that age. Though 
I allow that such a thing is not a prodigy, it is yet very little 
short of a miracle. And then, think with how many toils, 
sorrows, wanderings, distresses, had that holy man been ex- 
ercised all his life ; and it must be confessed, that he was 
no more debilitated by age, than worn out and exhausted 
by toils. And lastly, his body is not called barren simply 
but comparatively ; for it was not probable that he, who 
was unfit for begetting in the flower and vigour of age, 
should begin only now when nature had decayed. 

The expression, being not weak in faith, take in this 
sense — that he vacillated not, nor fluctuated, as we usually 
do under difficult circumstances. There is indeed a twofold 


weakness of faith — one is that which, by succumbing to 
trying adversities, occasions a falling away from the sup- 
porting power of God — the other arises from imperfection, 
but does not extinguish faith itself: for the mind is never 
so illuminated, but that many relics of ignorance remain ; 
the heart is never so strengthened, but that much doubting 
cleaves to it. Hence with these vices of the flesh, ignorance 
and doubt, the faithful have a continual conflict, and in this 
conflict their faith is often dreadfully shaken and distressed, 
but at length it comes forth victorious ; so that they may be 
said to be strong even in weakness. 

20. Nor did he through unbelief make an inquiry, &c. 
Though I do not follow the old version, nor Erasmus, yet 
my rendering is not given without reason. The Apostle 
seems to have had this in view, — That Abraham did not try 
to find out, by weighing the matter in the balance of unbe- 
lief, whether the Lord was able to perform what he had pro- 
mised. What is properly to inquire or to search into any- 
thing, is to examine it through diffidence or mistrust, and to 
be unwilling to admit what appears not credible, without 
thoroughly sifting it. 1 He indeed asked, how it could come 
to pass, but that was the asking of one astonished; as the case 
was with the Virgin Mary, when she inquired of the angel 
how could that be which he had announced ; and there are 
other similar instances. The saints then, when a message is 
brought them respecting the works of God, the greatness of 
which exceeds their comprehension, do indeed burst forth 
into expressions of wonder ; but from this wonder they soon 
pass on to lay hold on the power of God : on the contrary, 
the wicked, when they examine a message, scoff at and re- 
ject it as a fable. Such, as you will find, was the case with 
the Jews, when they asked Christ how he could give his 

1 The verb is "hux^iSn, which Calvin renders " disquisivit." The most 
common meaning of the verb is to hesitate, to doubt : it has the sense of 
exploring and examining, in the active voice, as in 1 Cor. xi. 31, but not in 
the passive. — See Matt. xxi. 21 ; Mark xi. 23; Acts x. 20. The version 
of Pareus is, " non disceptavit — he disputed not," and also of Macknight. 
But the fathers, and many moderns, such as Beza, Hammond, Stuart, 
and others, have rendered the sentence, " He doubted not." Phavorinus 
says, as quoted by Poole, that tiax(nniSa.t, is to doubt, to hesitate, to dis- 
pute, to distrust, (dijfidere.) — Ed. 


flesh to be eaten. For this reason it was, that Abraham 
was not reproved when he laughed and asked, how could a 
child be born to a man an hundred years old, and to a 
woman of ninety ; for in his astonishment he fully admitted 
the power of God's word. On the other hand, a similar 
laughter and inquiry on the part of Sarah were not without 
reproof, because she regarded not the promise as valid. 

If these things be applied to our present subject, it will 
be evident, that the justification of Abraham had no other 
beginning than that of the Gentiles. Hence the Jews re- 
proach their own father, if they exclaim against the call 
of the Gentiles as a thing unreasonable. Let us also remem- 
ber, that the condition of us all is the same with that of 
Abraham. All things around us are in opposition to the 
promises of God : He promises immortality ; we are sur- 
rounded with mortality and corruption : He declares that 
he counts us just ; we are covered with sins : He testifies 
that he is propitious and kind to us ; outward judgments 
threaten his wrath. What then is to be done ? We must 
with closed eyes pass by ourselves and all things connected 
with us, that nothing may hinder or prevent us from believ- 
ing that God is true. 

But he was strengthened, &c. This is of the same import 
with a former clause, when it is said, that he was not weak 
in faith. It is the same as though he had said, that he 
overcame unbelief by the constancy and firmness of faith. 1 
No one indeed comes forth a conqueror from this contest, 
but he who borrows weapons and strength from the word of 
God. From what he adds, giving glory to God, it must be 
observed, that no greater honour can be given to God, than 
by faith to seal his truth ; as, on the other hand, no greater 
dishonour can be done to him, than to refuse his offered 
favour, or to discredit his word. It is hence the chief thing 
in honouring God, obediently to embrace his promises : and 
true religion begins with faith. 

21. That what he had promised, &c. As all men acknow- 

1 " Doubt," says Parens, " has two arguments — will God do this ? and 
can God do this ? Faith has also two arguments — God will do it, because 
he has promised ; and he can do it, because he is omnipotent." 


ledge God's power, Paul seems to say nothing very extraor- 
dinary of the faith of Abraham ; but experience proves, that 
nothing is more uncommon, or more difficult, than to ascribe 
to God's power the honour which it deserves. There is in- 
deed no obstacle, however small and insignificant, by which 
the flesh imagines the hand of God is restrained from work- 
ing. Hence it is, that in the slightest trials, the promises 
of God slide away from us. When there is no contest, it is 
true, no one, as I have said, denies that God can do all 
things ; but as soon as anything comes in the way to im- 
pede the course of God's promise, we cast down God's power 
from its eminence. Hence, that it may obtain from us its 
right and its honour, when a contest comes, we ought to de- 
termine thus, — That it is no less sufficient to overcome the 
obstacles of the world, than the strong rays of the sun are 
to dissipate the mists. We are indeed wont ever to excuse 
ourselves, that we derogate nothing from God's power, when- 
ever we hesitate respecting his promises, and we commonly 
say, " The thought, that God promises more in his word 
than he can perform, (which would be a falsehood and blas- 
phemy against him,) is by no means the cause of our hesita- 
tion ; but that it is the defect which we feel in ourselves." 
But we do not sufficiently exalt the power of God, unless we 
think it to be greater than our weakness. Faith then ought 
not to regard our weakness, misery, and defects, but to fix 
wholly its attention on the power of God alone ; for if it de- 
pends on our righteousness or worthiness, it can never ascend 
to the consideration of God's power. And it is a proof of 
the unbelief, of which he had before spoken, when we mete 
the Lord's power with our own measure. For faith does 
not think that God can do all things, while it leaves him 
sitting still, but when, on the contrary, it regards his 
power in continual exercise, and applies it, especially, to 
the accomplishment of his word : for the hand of God is 
ever ready to execute whatever he has declared by his 

It seems strange to me, that Erasmus approved of the re- 
lative in the masculine gender ; for though the sense is not 
changed, we may yet come nearer to the Greek words of 


Paul. The verb, I know, is passive ; x but the abruptness 
may be lessened by a little change. 

22. And it ivas therefore imputed? &c. It becomes now 
more clear, how and in what manner faith brought right- 
eousness to Abraham ; and that was, because he, leaning on 
God's word, rejected not the promised favour. And this 
connection of faith with the word ought to be well under- 
stood and carefully remembered ; for faith can bring us 
nothing more than what it receives from the word. Hence 
he does not become immediately just, who is imbued only 
with a general and confused idea that God is true, except he 
reposes on the promise of his favour. 

23. Now, it was not written for his 23. Non est autem scriptum prop- 
sake alone, that it was imputed to ter ipsum tantum, imputatum fuisse 
him ; illi ; 

24. But for us also, to whom it 24. Sed etiam propter nos, quibus 
shall be imputed, if we believe on imputabitur credentibus in eum, qui 
him that raised up Jesus our Lord excitavit Iesum Dominum nostrum 
from the dead ; ex mortuis : 

25. Who was delivered for our 25. Qui traditus fuit propter de- 
offences, and was raised again for our licta nostra, et excitatus propter nos- 
j ustification . tram j ustiticationem . 

23. Now it was not written, &c. A proof from example is 
not always valid, of which I have before reminded you ; lest 
this should be questioned, Paul expressly affirms, that in the 
person of Abraham was exhibited an example of a common 
righteousness, which belongs equally to all. 

We are, by this passage, reminded of the duty of seeking 
profit from the examples recorded in Scripture. That his- 
tory is the teacher of what life ought to be, is what heathens 

1 The verb is, IwnyytXrai, used here, and perhaps in one other place, 
Heb. xii. 26, in an active sense. It is usually found, in the sense of pro- 
mising, in the middle voice, as in Mark xiv. 11 ; Acts vii. 5 ; Heb. vi. 13, 
&c. It is an anomaly that is to be met with sometimes in Greek authors. 

2 As in a former instance in verse 3, there is no nominative case to this 
verb : it is supplied by the sentence. This is the case not unfrequently in 
languages, such as Greek and Hebrew, in which the person is included in 
the verb itself. There is no nominative in the Welsh version, and there 
seems to be no need of it, Amhyny y cyvrivwyd iddo yn gyviawnder. 

" It is most true, as Paul says to the Romans, that by faith Abraham 
was justified, and not by obedience: but it is just as true what he says to 
the Hebrews, that it was by faith that Abraham obeyed." — Chalmers. 


have with truth said ; but as it is handed down by them, no 
one can derive from it sound instruction. Scripture alone 
justly claims to itself an office of this kind. For in the first 
place it prescribes general rules, by which we may test every 
other history, so as to render it serviceable to us : and in the 
second place, it clearly points out what things are to be fol- 
lowed, and what things are to be avoided. But as to doc- 
trine, which it especially teaches, it possesses this peculiarity, 
— that it clearly reveals the providence of God, his justice 
and goodness towards his own people, and his judgments on 
the wicked. 

What then is recorded of Abraham is by Paul denied to 
have been written only for his sake ; for the subject is not what 
belongs to the special call of one or of any particular person ; 
but that way of obtaining righteousness is described, which 
is ever the same with regard to all ; and it is what belonged 
to the common father of the faithful, on whom the eyes of 
all ought to be fixed. 

If then we would make a right and proper use of sacred 
histories, we must remember so to use them as to draw from 
them sound doctrine. They instruct us, in some parts, how to 
frame our life ; in others, how to strengthen faith ; and then, 
how we are to be stirred up to serve the Lord. In forming our 
life, the example of the saints may be useful ; and we may 
learn from them sobriety, chastity, love, patience, moderation, 
contempt of the world, and other virtues. What will serve to 
confirm faith is the help which God ever gave them, the pro- 
tection which brought comfort in adversities, and the pater- 
nal care which he ever exercised over them. The judgments 
of God, and the punishments inflicted on the wicked, will 
also aid us, provided they fill us with that fear which imbues 
the heart with reverence and devotion. 

But by saying, not on his account only, he seems to inti- 
mate, that it was written partly for his sake. Hence some 
think, that what Abraham obtained by faith was commemo- 
rated to his praise, because the Lord will have his servants 
to be for ever remembered, according to what Solomon says, 
that their name will be blessed. (Prov. x. 7.) But what if 
you take the words, not on his account only, in a simpler 


form, as though it were some singular privilege, not fit to be 
made an example of, but yet suitable to teach us, who must 
be justified in the same manner ? This certainly would be 
a more appropriate sense. 

24. Who believe on him, &c. I have already reminded you 
of the design of those periphrastic expressions : Paul intro- 
duced them, that he might, according to what the passages 
may require, describe in various ways the real character of 
faith — of which the resurrection of Christ is not the smallest 
part ; for it is the ground of our hope as to eternal life. Had 
he said only, that we believe in God, it could not have been 
so readily learnt how this could serve to obtain righteous- 
ness ; but when Christ comes forth and presents to us in his 
own resurrection a sure pledge of life, it then appears evident 
from what fountain the imputation of righteousness flows. 

25. Who was delivered for our offences, 1 &c. He expands 
and illustrates more at large the doctrine to which I have 
just referred. It indeed greatly concerns us, not only to 
have our minds directed to Christ, but also to have it dis- 
tinctly made known how he attained salvation for us. And 

1 It is S/a ra. ^a.^ hftwv, " for Our offences," and S/a TYiv hzuiuffiv 

kptuv, "for our justification." The preposition hk, has here clearly two 
meanings : the first signifies the reason why ; and the second, the end for 
which. How is this to be known ? By the character of the sentence, 
and by what is taught elsewhere. For, to which Johnson attaches forty 
meanings, is commonly understood here as having a different sense ; and 
this is sufficiently indicated by what is connected with it. But in case a 
doubt arises, we have only to consult other passages in which the subject 
is handled. 

Take the first instance — " for our offences." There are those who say 
that S'« here means because of, or, on account of; and this, in order to 
evade the idea of a propitiation. The preposition, no doubt, has this sense ; 
but is this its sense here ? If the sentence itself be deemed insufficient to 
determine the question, (though to a plain reader it is,) let us see what is 
said elsewhere of Christ's death in connection with our sins or offences. 
He himself said, that he came " to give his life a ransom (Xu-rgov — a re- 
deeming price) for many," Matt. xx. 28. It is said, that he "gave him- 
self a ransom (avriXwrpw — a redeeming price for another) for all," 1 Tim. 
ii. 6. It is expressly declared, that " Christ was once offered to bear the 
sins of many," Ileb. ix. 28. And more to the purpose still, if possible, is 
the testimony of John, when he says that Christ " is the propitiation (lxa.<r- 
p°s — expiation) for our sins," 1 John ii. 2. Now, can it be that we can 
give any other meaning to the text, than that God delivered his Son as a 
sacrifice for our offences ? This is the doctrine of Scripture throughout. 


though Scripture, when it treats of our salvation, dwells 
especially on the death of Christ, yet the Apostle now pro- 
ceeds farther : for as his purpose was more explicitly to set 
forth the cause of our salvation, he mentions its two parts ; 
and says, first, that our sins were expiated by the death of 
Christ, — and secondly, that by his resurrection was obtained 
our righteousness. But the meaning is, that when we pos- 
sess the benefit of Christ's death and resurrection, there is 
nothing wanting to the completion of perfect righteousness. 
By separating his death from his resurrection, he no doubt 
accommodates what he says to our ignorance ; for it is also 
true that righteousness has been obtained for us by that 
obedience of Christ, which he exhibited in his death, as the 
Apostle himself teaches us in the following chapter. But as 
Christ, by rising from the dead, made known how much he 
had effected by his death, this distinction is calculated to 
teach us that our salvation was begun by the sacrifice, by 
which our sins were expiated, and was at length completed 
by his resurrection : for the beginning of righteousness is to 
be reconciled to God, and its completion is to attain life by 
having death abolished. Paul then means, that satisfaction 
for our sins was given on the cross : for it was necessary, in 
order that Christ might restore us to the Father's favour, 
that our sins should be abolished by him ; which could not 
have been done had he not on their account suffered the 
punishment, which we were not equal to endure. Hence 
Isaiah says, that the chastisement of our peace was upon 
him. (Isa. liii. 5.) But he says that he was delivered, and 
not, that he died ; for expiation depended on the eternal 
goodwill of God, who purposed to be in this way pacified. 

And was raised again for our justification. As it would 
not have been enough for Christ to undergo the wrath and 
judgment of God, and to endure the curse due to our sins, 
without his coming forth a conqueror, and without being 
received into celestial glory, that by his intercession he might 
reconcile God to us, the efficacy of justification is ascribed 
to his resurrection, by which death was overcome ; not that 
the sacrifice of the cross, by which we are reconciled to God, 
contributes nothing towards our justification, but that the 


completeness of his favour appears more clear by his coming 
to life again. 1 

But I cannot assent to those who refer this second clause 
to newness of life ; for of that the Apostle has not begun to 
speak ; and further, it is certain that both clauses refer to 
the same thing. For if justification means renovation, then 
that he died for our sins must be taken in the same sense, 
as signifying, that he acquired for us grace to mortify the 
flesh ; which no one admits. Then, as he is said to have 
died for our sins, because he delivered us from the evil of 
death by suffering death as a punishment for our sins ; so he 
is now said to have been raised for our justification, because 
he fully restored life to us by his resurrection : for he was 
first smitten by the hand of God, that in the person of the 
sinner he might sustain the misery of sin ; and then he was 
raised to life, that he might freely grant to his people right- 
eousness and life. 2 He therefore still speaks of imputative 
justification ; and this will be confirmed by what immediately 
follows in the next chapter. 


1. Therefore, being justified by 1. Iustificatus ergo ex fide, pacem 
faith, we have peace with God, habemus apud Deum per Dominum 
through our Lord Jesus Christ : nostrum Iesum Christum ; 

1 Christ is said here to have been raised from the dead by God, as well 
as delivered into death. " However much the import of this," says Chal- 
mers, " may have escaped the notice of an ordinary reader, it is pregnant 
with meaning of the weightiest importance. You know that when the 
prison door is opened to a criminal, and that by the very authority which 
lodged him there, it evinces that the debt of his transgression has been 
rendered, and that he stands acquitted of all its penalties. It was not for 
his own, but for our offences that Jesus was delivered unto the death, and 
that his body was consigned to the imprisonment of the grave. And when 
an angel descended from heaven, and rolled back the great stone from the 
door of the sepulchre, this speaks to us, that the justice of God is satisfied, 
that the ransom of our iniquity has been paid, that Christ has rendered a 
full discharge of all the debt for which he undertook as the great surety 
between God and the sinners who believe in him." — Ed. 

3 " Either therefore as the evidence of the acceptance of his sufferings as 
our substitute, or as a necessary step towards securing the application of 
their merit to our benefit, the resurrection of Christ was essential to our 
justification." — Professor Hodge. 


2. By whom also we have access by 2. Per quem accessum habuimus 

faith into this grace wherein we stand, fide in gratiam istam in qua steti- 

and rejoice in hope of the glory of mus, et gloriamur super spe glorise 

God. Dei. 

1. Being then justified, &c. The Apostle begins to illus- 
trate by the effects, what he has hitherto said of the right- 
eousness of faith : and hence the whole of this chapter is 
taken up with amplifications, which are no less calculated to 
explain than to confirm. He had said before, that faith is 
abolished, if righteousness is sought by works ; and in this 
case perpetual inquietude would disturb miserable souls, as 
they can find nothing substantial in themselves : but he 
teaches us now, that they are rendered quiet and tranquil, 
when we have obtained righteousness by faith, We have peace 
with God ; and this is the peculiar fruit of the righteousness 
of faith. When any one strives to seek tranquillity of con- 
science by works, (which is the case with profane and igno- 
rant men,) he labours for it in vain ; for either his heart is 
asleep through his disregard or forgetfulness of God's judg- 
ment, or else it is full of trembling and dread, until it re- 
poses on Christ, who is alone our peace. 

Then peace means tranquillity of conscience, which arises 
from this, — that it feels itself to be reconciled to God. This 
the Pharisee has not, who swells with false confidence in his 
own works ; nor the stupid sinner, who is not disquieted, 
because he is inebriated with the sweetness of vices : for 
though neither of these seems to have a manifest disquie- 
tude, as he is who is smitten with a consciousness of sin ; yet 
as they do not really approach the tribunal of God, they have 
no reconciliation with him ; for insensibility of conscience 
is, as it were, a sort of retreating from God. Peace with 
God is opposed to the dead security of the flesh, and for this 
reason, — because the first thing is, that every one should 
become awakened as to the account he must render of his 
life ; and no one can stand boldly before God, but he who 
relies on a gratuitous reconciliation; for as long as he is 
God, all must otherwise tremble and be confounded. And 
this is the strongest of proofs, that our opponents do nothing 
but prate to no purpose, when they ascribe righteousness to 


works ; for this conclusion of Paul is derived from this fact, — 
that miserable souls always tremble, except they repose on 
the grace of Christ. 

2. Through whom we have access^ &c. Our reconciliation 
with God depends only on Christ ; for he only is the beloved 
Son, and we are all by nature the children of wrath. But 
this favour is communicated to us by the gospel ; for the 
gospel is the ministry of reconciliation, by the means of 
which we are in a manner brought into the kingdom of God. 
Rightly then does Paul set -before our eyes in Christ a sure 
pledge of God's favour, that he might more easily draw us 
away from every confidence in works. And as he teaches 
us by the word access, that salvation begins with Christ, he 
excludes those preparations by which foolish men imagine 
that they can anticipate God's mercy ; as though he said, 

1 Calvin leaves out ««!, " also." Griesbach retains it. The omission 
is only in one MS., and in the Syriac and Ethiopie versions : it is rendered 
vuv by Thcodoret. But its meaning here seems not to be " also," but 
" even" or " yea :" for this verse contains in part the same truth as the 
former. The style of Paul is often very like that of the Prophets, that is, 
the arrangement of his sentences is frequently on their model. In the 
Prophets, and also in the Psalms, we find often two distichs and sometimes 
two verses containing the same sentiment, only the latter distich states it 
differently, and adds something to it. See, for example, Ps. xxxii. 1, 2. 
Such is exactly the case here. " Justified by faith," and " this grace in 
which we stand," are the same. " Through our Lord Jesus Christ," and 
" through whom we have access," are identical in their import. The ad- 
ditional idea in the second verse is the last clause. That we may see how 
the whole corresponds with the Prophetic style, the two verses shall be 
presented in lines : — 

1 . Having then been justified by faith, 
We have peace with God, 
Through our Lord Jesus Christ ; 

2. Through whom we have had, yea, the access by faith 
To this grace, in which we stand, 

And exult in the hope of the glory of God. 

The illative, then, is to be preferred to therefore, as it is an inference, not 
from a particular verse or a clause, but from what the Apostle had been 
teaching. By the phrase, " the glory of God," is meant the glory which 
God bestows : it is, to use the words of Professor Stuart, " genitivus 

The word " access," ^■^offa.yaiyh, has two meanings, — introduction (ad- 
ductio) — and access (accessio.) The verb ^^eraynv, is used in 1 Pet. iii. 
18, in the sense of introducing, leading or bringing to. So Christ, as 
Wolfius remarks, may be considered to be here represented as the intro- 
ducer and reconciler, through whom believers come to God and hold in- 
tercourse with him. " Introduction" is the version of Macknight ; and 
Doddridge has also adopted this idea. — Ed. 


" Christ comes not to you, nor helps you, on account of your 
merits." He afterwards immediately subjoins, that it is 
through the continuance of the same favour that our salva- 
tion becomes certain and sure ; by which he intimates, that 
perseverance is not founded on our power and diligence, but 
on Christ ; though at the same time by saying, that we stand, 
he indicates that the gospel ought to strike deep roots into 
the hearts of the godly, so that being strengthened by its 
truth, they may stand firm against all the devices of Satan 
and of the flesh. And by the word stand, he means, that 
faith is not a changeable persuasion, only for one day ; but 
that it is immutable, and that it sinks deep into the heart, 
so that it endures through life. It is then not he, who by 
a sudden impulse is led to believe, that has faith, and is to 
be reckoned among the faithful ; but he who constantly, and, 
so to speak, with a firm and fixed foot, abides in that station 
appointed to him by God, so as to cleave always to Christ. 

And glory in the hope, &c. The reason that the hope of 
a future life exists and dares to exult, is this, — because we 
rest on God's favour as on a sure foundation : for Paul's 
meaning is, that though the faithful are now pilgrims on 
the earth, they yet by hope scale the heavens, so that they 
quietly enjoy in their own bosoms their future inheritance. 
And hereby are subverted two of the most pestilent dogmas 
of the sophists. What they do in the first place is, they bid 
Christians to be satisfied with moral conjecture- as to the 
perception of God's favour towards them ; and secondly, 
they teach that all are uncertain as to their final persever- 
ance. But except there be at present a sure knowledge, 
and a firm and undoubting persuasion as to the future, who 
would dare to glory? The hope of the glory of God has 
shone upon us through the gospel, which testifies that we 
shall be participators of the Divine nature; for when we 
shall see God face to face, we shall be like him. (2 Peter i. 
4 ; 1 John iii. 2.) 

3. And not only so, but we glory 3. Neque id mod 6, sed gloriamur 1 
in tribulations also : knowing that etiam in afflictionibus ; scientes quod 
tribulation worketh patience ; tribulatio patientiam efnciat ; 

1 Gloriamur — xuu%uf*i0u. The same as in the preceding verse, and 


4. And patience, experience ; and 4. Patientia vero probationem; 
experience, hope : probatio autem spem : 

5. And hope maketh not ashamed ; 5. Porro spes non pudefacit, 
because the love of God is shed quoniam dilectio Dei diffusa est in 
abroad in our hearts by the Holy cordibus nostris per Spiritum sane- 
Ghost, which is given unto us. turn, qui datus est nobis. 

3. Not only so, &c. That no one might scoffmgly object 
and say, that Christians, with all their glorying, are yet 
strangely harassed and distressed in this life, which condi- 
tion is far from being a happy one, — he meets this objection, 
and declares, not only that the godly are prevented by these 
calamities from being blessed, but also that their glorying 
is thereby promoted. To prove this he takes his argument 
from the effects, and adopts a remarkable gradation, and at 
last concludes, that all the sorrows we endure contribute to 
our salvation and final good. 

By saying that the saints glory in tribulations, he is not 
to be understood, as though they dreaded not, nor avoided 
adversities, or were not distressed with their bitterness 
when they happened, (for there is no patience when there is 
no feeling of bitterness ;) but as in their grief and sorrow 
they are not without great consolation, because they regard 
that whatever they bear is dispensed to them for good by 
the hand of a most indulgent Father, they are justly said to 
glory : for whenever salvation is promoted, there is not 
wanting a reason for glorying. 

We are then taught here what is the design of our tribu- 
lations, if indeed we would prove ourselves to be the children 
of God. They ought to habituate us to patience ; and if 
they do not answer this end, the work of the Lord is ren- 
dered void and of none effect through our corruption : for 
how does he prove that adversities do not hinder the glory- 
ing of the faithful, except that by their patience in endur- 
ing them, they feel the help of God, which nourishes and 
confirms their hope ? They then who do not learn patience, 
do not, it is certain, make good progress. Nor is it any 

rendered " boast" by Macknight, and in the former verse by Doddridge, 
and here, " glory." " Boast" is certainly not a proper word, for it is 
commonly used in a bad sense. " Rejoice" is too feeble, for it means 
exultation and triumph. — Ed. 


objection, that there are recorded in Scripture some com- 
plaints full of despondency, which the saints had made : for 
the Lord sometimes so depresses and straitens for a time 
his people, that they can hardly breathe, and can hardly 
remember any source of consolation ; but in a moment he 
brings to life those whom he had nearly sunk in the dark 
ness of death. So that what Paul says is always accom 
plished in them — " We are in every way oppressed, but not 
made anxious ; we are in danger, but we are not in despair ; 
we suffer persecution, but we are not forsaken ; we are cast 
down, but we are not destroyed." (2 Cor. iv. 8.) 

Tribulation produces (efficiat) patience, &c. This is not 
the natural effect of tribulation ; for we see that a great 
portion of mankind are thereby instigated to murmur against 
God, and even to curse his name. But when that inward 
meekness, which is infused by the Spirit of God, and the 
consolation, which is conveyed by the same Spirit, succeed 
in the place of our stubbornness, then tribulations become 
the means of generating patience ; yea, those tribulations, 
which in the obstinate can produce nothing but indignation 
and clamorous discontent. 

4. Patience, probation, &c. James, adopting a similar 
gradation, seems to follow a different order ; for he says, 
that patience proceeds from probation : but the different 
meaning of the word is what will reconcile both. Paul takes 
probation for the experience which tbe faithful have of the 
sure protection of God, when by relying on his aid they 
overcome all difficulties, even when they experience, whilst 
in patiently enduring they stand firm, how much avails the 
power of the Lord, which he has promised to be always pre- 
sent with his people. James takes the same word for tri- 
bulation itself, according to the common usage of Scripture ; 
for by these God proves and tries his servants : and they 
are often called trials. 1 

1 The word in James is $oz!fiiav, while here it is Soxi/xb. The first means 
a test, or the act of testing — trial ; and the second, the result of testing — 
experience, and is rendered in our version " proof," 2 Cor. ii. 9, — " expe- 
riment," 2 Cor. ix. 13. — and in 2 Cor. viii. 2, " trial," which ought to be 
experience. Beza says, that the first bears to the second a similar rela- 


According then to the present passage, we then only 
make advances in patience as we ought, when we regard it 
as having been continued to us by God's power, and thus 
entertain hope as to the future, that God's favour, which has 
ever succoured us in our necessities, will never be wanting 
to us. Hence he subjoins, that from probation arises hope ; 
for ungrateful we should be for benefits received, except the 
recollection of them confirms our hope as to what is to come. 

5. Hope maketh not ashamed, &c. ; x that is, it regards 
salvation as most certain. It hence appears, that the Lord 
tries us by adversities for this end, — that our salvation may 
thereby be gradually advanced. Those evils then cannot 
render us miserable, which do in a manner promote our 
happiness. And thus is proved what he had said, that the 
godly have reasons for glorying in the midst of their afflic- 

For the love of God, &c. I do not refer this only to the 
last sentence, but to the whole of the preceding passage. I 
therefore would say, — that by tribulations we are stimulated 
to patience, and that patience finds an experiment of divine 
help, by which we are more encouraged to entertain hope ; 
for however we may be pressed and seem to be nearly con- 
sumed, we do not yet cease to feel God's favour towards us, 
which affords the richest consolation, and much more abun- 
dant than when all things happen prosperously. For as 
that happiness, which is so in appearance, is misery itself, 
when God is adverse to and displeased with us ; so when he 

tion as cause bears to effect : the one tiling is testing or probation, and 
the other is the experience that is thereby gained. 

The word is rendered here, not very intelligibly, " approbation," both 
by Mackniglit and Stuart ; but more correctly, " experience," by Beza 
and Doddridge. — Ed. 

1 Chalmers observes, that there are two hopes mentioned in this pas- 
sage, — the hope of faith in the second verse, and the hope of experience 
in this. " The hope of the fourth verse," he says, " is distinct from and 
posterior to the hope of the second ; and it also appears to be derived 
from another source. The first hope is hope in believing, a hope which 
hangs direct on the testimony of God... The second hope is grounded on 
distinct considerations — not upon what the believer sees to be in the tes- 
timony of God, but upon what he finds to be in himself. — It is the fruit 
not of faith, but of experience ; and is gathered not from the word that is 
without, but from the feeling of what passes within." — Ed. 


is propitious, even calamities themselves will surely be turned 
to a prosperous and a joyful issue. Seeing all things must 
serve the will of the Creator, who, according to his paternal 
favour towards us, (as Paul declares in the eighth chapter,) 
overrules all the trials of the cross for our salvation, this 
knowledge of divine love towards us is instilled into our 
hearts by the Spirit of God ; for the good things which God 
has prepared for his servants are hid from the ears and the 
eyes and the minds of men, and the Spirit alone is he who 
can reveal them. And the word diffused, is very emphati- 
cal ; for it means that the revelation of divine love towards 
us is so abounding that it fills our hearts ; and being thus 
spread through every part of them, it not only mitigates 
sorrow in adversities, but also, like a sweet seasoning, it 
renders tribulations to be loved by us. 1 

He says further, that the Spirit is given, that is, bestowed 
through the gratuitous goodness of God, and not conferred for 
our merits ; according to what Augustine has well observed, 
who, though he is mistaken in his view of the love of God, 

1 " The love of God" in this passage may mean either the love of which 
God is the object — love to God, or the love which he possesses — God's 
love to us : the usus loquendi would admit either of these meanings ; and 
hence commentators have differed on the point. The expression, t>jv 
kya-rnv rov ©lou, in Luke xii. 42, John v. 42, and in other places, means 
" love to God ;" and h kyavn rod ®iou, in 1 John iv. 9, signifies clearly the 
love of God to us. The meaning then can alone be ascertained by the 
context, and by the wording of the sentence. It stands connected with 
christian graces, patience and hope ; and this favours the first view, that 
it is love to God produced within by the Spirit. Then the verb, \xx.<x, u - 
rcu — is poured out or poured forth, seems more suitable to the idea of love 
being communicated as a gift, or as a holy feeling within. It is further 
what prevents hope from being disappointed ; it is some good or enjoy- 
ment that now strengthens and satisfies hope ; and to love God who first 
loved us is to realize in a measure what hope expects ; and when it is said 
that it is diffused by the Spirit, we are reminded of what Paul says in 
Gal. v. 22, that "love" is one of the fruits of the Spirit. But it may, 
on the other hand, be alleged, that the verse stands connected with 
what follows, as the next verse begins with " for," and that the subse- 
quent context most clearly refers to the love of God to us ; and this evi- 
dently decides the question. 

The first view, our love to God, has been adopted by Augustine, Mede, 
Doddridge, Scott, and Stuart ; and the other, God's love to us, by Chry- 
sostom, Beza, Pareus, Orotius, Hodge, and Chalmers, and also by 
Schleusner, who gives this paraphrase, " Amor Dei abunde nobis decla- 
ratus est — the love of God is abundantly declared to us." — Ed. 



gives this explanation, — that we courageously bear adversi- 
ties, and are thus confirmed in our hope, because we, having 
been regenerated by the Spirit, do love God. It is indeed a 
pious sentiment, but not what Paul means : for love is not 
to be taken here in an active but a passive sense. And cer- 
tain it is, that no other thing is taught by Paul than that 
the true fountain of all love is, when the faithful are con- 
vinced that they are loved by God, and that they are not 
slightly touched with this conviction, but have their souls 
thoroughly imbued with it. 

6. For when we were yet without 6. Christus enim, quum adhuc 
strength, in due time Christ died for essemus infirmi secundum rationem 
the ungodly. temporis, pro impiis mortuus est : 

7. For scarcely for a righteous 7. Vix sane pro justo quis mori- 
man will one die ; yet peradventure atur ; nam pro hono forsan aliquis 
for a good man some would even etiam mori audeat. 

dare to die. 

8. But God commendeth his love 8. Confirmat autem erga nos cha- 
toward us, in that, while we were yet ritatem Deus quod peccatores quum 
sinners, Christ died for us. adhuc essemus, Christus pro nobis 

mortuus est : 

9. Much more then, being now 9. Multo igitur magis, justificati 
justified by his blood, we shall be nunc per sanguinem ejus, servabi- 
saved from wrath through him. mur per ipsum ab ira. 

6. For Christ, &c. I ventured not in my version to allow 
myself so much liberty as to give this rendering, " In the 
time in which we were weak ;" and yet I prefer this sense. 
An argument begins here, which is from the greater to the 
less, and which he afterwards pursues more at large : and 
though he has not woven the thread of his discourse so very 
distinctly, yet its irregular structure does not disturb the 
meaning. " If Christ/' he says, " had mercy on the ungodly, 
if he reconciled enemies to his Father, if he has done this 
by the virtue of his death, much more easily will he save 
them when justified, and keep those restored to favour in 
the possession of it, especially when the influence of his life 
is added to the virtue of his death." 1 The time of weakness 

1 On the argument of this verse, and on what follows to the tenth verse, 
Professor Stuart makes this remark, — " The passage before us seems to 
be more direct, in respect to the perseverance of the saints, than almost 
any other passage in the Scriptures which I can find. The sentiment here 
is not dependent on the form of a particular expression, (as it appears to 


some consider to be that, when Christ first began to be mani- 
fested to the world, and they think that those are called 
weak, who were like children under the tuition of the law. 
I apply the expression to every one of us, and I regard that 
time to be meant, which precedes the reconciliation of each 
one with Grod. For as we are all born the children of wrath, 
so we are kept under that curse until we become partakers 
of Christ. And he calls those weak, who have nothing in 
themselves but what is sinful ; for he calls the same imme- 
diately afterwards ungodly. And it is nothing new, that 
weakness should be taken in this sense. He calls, in 1 Cor. 
xii. 22, the covered parts of the body weak ; and, in 2 Cor. 
x. 10, he designates his own bodily presence weak, because 
it had no dignity. And this meaning will soon again occur. 
When, therefore, we were weak, that is, when we were in no 
way worthy or fit that God should look on us, at this very 
time Christ died for the ungodly : for the beginning of reli- 
gion is faith, from which they were all alienated, for whom 
Christ died. And this also is true as to the ancient fathers, 
who obtained righteousness before he died ; for they derived 
this benefit from his future death. 1 

7. For a just man, &c. The meaning of the passage has 
constrained me to render the particle yap as an affirmative 
or declarative rather than as a causative. The import of the 
sentence is this, " Most rare, indeed, is such an example to 
be found among men, that one dies for a just man, though 
this may sometimes happen : but let this be granted, yet 
for an ungodly man none will be found willing to die : this 

be in some other passages) ; but it is fundamentally connected with the 
very nature of the argument." — Ed. 

1 Others, as well as Calvin, such as Chrysostom and Erasmus, have 
connected xara xai^ov with the preceding, and not with the following words. 
And Pareus, who inclined to the same view, gives this explanation, — " He 
distinguishes the former from the present state, as though he said, ' We 
who are now justified by faith were formerly ungodly.' " Chrysostom refers 
to the time of the law, and considers the weakness here to be that of man 
under the law. This gives an emphatic meaning to " weak," which other- 
wise it seems not to have, and is countenanced by what is said in ch. viii. 
3, where the law is said to be weak, but weak on account of the weakness 
of the flesh. At the same time it must be observed, that most commen- 
tators, like Beza, connect these words, ««™ xaipov, with the death of Christ, 
as having taken place " in due time," appointed by God, and pre-signified 
by the prophets, according to what is said in Gal. iv. 4. — Ed. 


is what Christ has done." 1 Thus it is an illustration, dei'ived 
from a comparison ; for such an example of kindness, as 
Christ has exhibited towards us, does not exist among men. 
8. But God confirms, &c. The verb, avvlarvcn, has various 
meanings ; that which is most suitable to this place is that 
of confirming ; for it was not the Apostle's object to excite 
our gratitude, but to strengthen the trust and confidence of 
our souls. He then confirms, that is, exhibits his love to us 
as most certain and complete, inasmuch as for the sake of 
the ungodly he spared not Christ his own Son. In this, in- 
deed, his love appears, that being not moved by love on our 
part, he of his own good will first loved us, as John tells us. 
(1 John iii. 16.) — Those are here called sinners, (as in many 
other places,) who are wholly vicious and given up to sin, 
according to what is said in John ix. 31, " God hears not sin- 
ners," that is, men abandoned and altogether wicked. The 
woman called " a sinner/' was one of a shameful character. 
(Luke vii. 37.) And this meaning appears more evident 
from the contrast which immediately follows, — -for being now 
justified through his blood : for since he sets the two in oppo- 

1 Calvin has omitted what is said of the " good " man ; for whom, it is 
said, one would perhaps even dare to die. The "just," llxaio;, is he who 
acts according to what justice requires, and according to what the Rabbins 

say, " What is mine is mine, and what is thine is thine," \?W "]?&) vS? *?& : 
but the " good," LyuSls, is the kind, the benevolent, the beneficent, called 
31t3 in Hebrew ; who is described by Cicero as one who does good to those 
to whom he can, (vir bonus est is, qui prodest quibus potest.) 

There is here an evident contrast between these words and those em- 
ployed in verses 6 and 8, to designate the character of those for whom 
Christ died. The just, Hixaio;, is the opposite of the " ungodly," «.viZm, who, 
by not worshipping and honouring God, is guilty of injustice of the highest 
kind, and in this sense of being unjust it is found in ch. iv. 5, where God 
is said to "justify the ungodly," that is, him who is unjust by withholding 
from God the homage which rightly belongs to him. Phavorinus gives 
u6ipiro;, unlawful, unjust, as one of its meanings. — What forms a contrast 
with " good " is sinner, x^a^ruXo;, which often means wicked, mischievous, 
one given to vice and the doing of evil. Suidas describes a^a^roikoi as those 
who determine to live in transgression, »i -Tra.^^a avC,** -r^ai^ovfavoi ; and 
Schleusner gives " scelestus — wicked," " fiagitiosus — full of mischief," as 
being sometimes its meaning. 

But the description goes farther, for in ver. 10 the word " enemies, 
*xH''" is introduced in order to complete the character of those for whom 
Christ died. They were not only " ungodly," and therefore unjust towards 
God, and " wicked," given to all evils ; but also " enemies," entertaining 
hatred to God, and carrying on war, as it were, against him. — Ed. 


sition, the one to the other, and calls those justified who are 
delivered from the guilt of sin, it necessarily follows that 
those are sinners who, for their evil deeds, are condemned. 1 
The import of the whole is, — since Christ has attained 
righteousness for sinners by his death, much more shall he 
protect them, being now justified, from destruction. And in 
the last clause he applies to his own doctrine the compari- 
son between the less and the greater : for it would not have 
been enough for salvation to have been once procured for 
us, were not Christ to render it safe and secure to the end. 
And this is what the Apostle now maintains ; so that we 
ought not to fear, that Christ will cut off the current of his 
favour while we are in the middle of our course : for inas- 
much as he has reconciled us to the Father, our condition is 
such, that he purposes more efficaciously to put forth and 
daily to increase his favour towards us. 

10. For if, when we were ene- 10. Si enira quum inimici esse- 

mies, we were reconciled to God by mus, reconciliati sumus Deo per 

the death of his Son ; much more, mortem Filii ejus ; multo magis, 

being reconciled, we shall be saved reconciliati, servabimur per vitam 

by his life. ipsius. 

This is an explanation of the former verse, amplified by 
introducing a comparison between life and death. We were 
enemies, he says, when Christ interposed for the purpose of 
propitiating the Father : through this reconciliation we are 
now friends ; since this was effected by his death ; much 
more influential and efficacious will be his life. 2 We hence 

1 The meaning given to eunarwt is not peculiar. It is used with an 
accusative in two senses, — to recommend, to commend, to praise, as in 
ch. xvi. 1 ; 2 Cor. iii. 1 ; v. 12 ; x. 12, 18 ; and also, to prove, to demon- 
strate, to shew, to render manifest or certain, and thus to confirm, as in 
ch. iii. 5; 2 Cor. vi. 4; vii. 11 ; Gal. ii. 18; Schleusner refers to this 
passage as an instance of the latter meaning. That God proved, or 
rendered manifest, or conspicuously shewed, his love, seems to be the most 
suitable idea, as the proof or the evidence is stated in the words which 
follow. The Syriac version gives the sense of shewing or proving. Va- 
tablus has " proves " or verifies ; Grotius, " renders conspicuous ;" Beza, 
" commends," as our version and Macknight ; Doddridge, " recommends ;" 
Hodge, '•' renders conspicuous." — Ed. 

2 " By his life," the abstract for the concrete ; it means, " through him 
being alive," being at God's right hand, having every power committed to 
him, and making intercession for us, chap. viii. 34. " Because / live, ye 
shall live also." John xiv. 19. — Ed. 


have ample proofs to strengthen our hearts with confidence 
respecting our salvation. By saying that we were recon- 
ciled to God by the death of Christ, he means, that it was 
the sacrifice of expiation, by which God was pacified towards 
the world, as I have showed in the fourth chapter. 

But the Apostle seems here to be inconsistent with him- 
self ; for if the death of Christ was a pledge of the divine 
love towards us, it follows that we were already acceptable 
to him ; but he says now, that we were enemies. To this I 
answer, that as God hates sin, we are also hated by him as 
far as we are sinners ; but as in his secret counsel he chooses 
us into the body of Christ, he ceases to hate us : but re- 
storation to favour is unknown to us, until we attain it by 
faith. Hence with regard to us, we are always enemies, 
until the death of Christ interposes in order to propitiate 
God. And this twofold aspect of things ought to be no- 
ticed ; for we do not know the gratuitous mercy of God 
otherwise than as it appears from this — that he spared not 
his only -begotten Son ; for he loved us at a time when there 
was discord between him and us : nor can we sufficiently 
understand the benefit brought to us by the death of Christ, 
except this be the beginning of our reconciliation with God, 
that we are persuaded that it is by the expiation that has 
been made, that he, who was before justly angry with us, is 
now propitious to us. Since then our reception into favour 
is ascribed to the death of Christ, the meaning is, that guilt 
is thereby taken away, to which we should be otherwise ex- 

11. And not only so, but we also 11. Non solum autem, sed etiara 
joy in God, through our Lord Jesus gloriamur in Deo per Dominum 
Christ, by whom we have now re- Iesum Christum, per quem nunc re- 
ceived the atonement. conciliationem accepimus. 

11. And not this only, &c. He now ascends into the 
highest strain of glorying ; for when we glory that God is 
ours, whatever blessings can be imagined or wished, ensue 
and flow from this fountain ; for God is not only the chief 
of all good things, but also possesses in himself the sum and 
substance of all blessings ; and he becomes ours through 
Christ. We then attain this by faith, — that nothing is 


wanting to us as to happiness. Nor is it in vain that he so 
often mentions reconciliation : it is, first, that we may be 
taught to fix our eyes on the death of Christ, whenever we 
speak of our salvation ; and, secondly, that we may know 
that our trust must be fixed on nothing else, but on the ex- 
piation made for our sins. 

12. Wherefore, as by one man sin 12. Quamobrem sicut per unum 
entered into the world, and death hominem peccatum in mundum in- 
by sin ; and so death passed upon all troiit, et per peccatum mors ; atque 
men, for that all have sinned : ita in omnes homines mors perva- 

gata est, quandoquidem omnes pec- 
caverunt : 

13. (For until the law sin was in 13. (Nam usque ad legem pecca- 
the world : but sin is not imputed turn erat in mundo ; peccatum autem 
when there is no law. non imputatur, quum non est lex : 

14. Nevertheless death reigned 14. Sed regnavit mors ab Adam 
from Adam to Moses, even over usque ad Mosen, etiam in eos qui 
them that had not sinned after the non peccaverunt ad similitudinem 
similitude of Adam's transgression, prsevericationis Adam, qui est figura 
who is the figure of him that was to futuri. 


12. Wherefore as, &c. He now begins to enlarge on the 
same doctrine, by comparing with it what is of an opposite 
character. For since Christ came to redeem us from the 
calamity into which Adam had fallen, and had precipitated 
all his posterity with him, we cannot see with so much clear- 
ness what we have in Christ, as by having what we have 
lost in Adam set before us, though all things on both sides 
are not similar : hence Paul subjoins an exception, which we 
shall notice in its place ; and we shall also point out any 
other difference that may occur. The incompleteness of the 
sentence sometimes renders it obscure, as when the second 
clause, which answers to the former, is not expressed. But 
we shall endeavour to make both plain when we come to 
those parts. 1 

1 The beginning of this verse has occasioned a vast number of conjec- 
tures, both as to the connection and as to the corresponding clause to the 
first sentence. Most agree in the main with Calvin on these two points. 
Hodge announces a similar view as to the connection in these words, — 
" The idea of men being regarded and treated, not according to their own 
merits, but the merit of another, is contrary to the common mode of think- 
ing among men. The Apostle illustrates and enforces it by an appeal to the 
great analogous fact in the history of the world." 

As to the corresponding clause, that it is found in the 18th verse, there 


Sin entered into the world, &c. Observe the order which 
he keeps here ; for he says, that sin preceded, and that from 
sin death followed. There are indeed some who contend, 
that we are so lost through Adam's sin, as though we perish- 
ed through no fault of our own, but only, because he had 
sinned for us. But Paul distinctly affirms, that sin extends 
to all who suffer its punishment : and this he afterwards 
more fully declares, when subsequently he assigns a reason 
why all the posterity of Adam are subject to the dominion 
of death ; and it is even this — because we have all, he says, 
sinned. But to sin in this case, is to become corrupt and 
vicious ; for the natural depravity which we bring from our 
mother's womb, though it brings not forth immediately its 
own fruits, is yet sin before God, and deserves his vengeance : 
and this is that sin which they call original. For as Adam 
at his creation had received for us as well as for himself the 
gifts of God's favour, so by falling away from the Lord, he 
in himself corrupted, vitiated, depraved, and ruined our na- 
ture ; for having been divested of God's likeness, he could 

is a common consent, — Pareus, Willet, Orotius, Doddridge, Scott, Stuart, 
Chalmers, &c. ; the intervening verses are viewed as parenthetic. 

The phrase, ha rovre, and also Hi and bZv, are sometimes nsed anticipa- 
tively as well as retrospectively, as their corresponding particles are often in 
Hebrew. See note on chap. ii. 1 . That Paul uses ha toZto in this way ap- 
pears evident from chap. iv. 16 ; xiii. 6 ; 1 Cor. xi. 10. It anticipates here, 
as I think, what is afterwards expressed by ty $, as in chap. iv. 16, by ha, 
in chap. xiii. 6, by ya%, and in 1 Cor. xi. 10, by ha before angels. Then the 
meaning of the verse would be conveyed by the following rendering, — 

12. For this reason — as through one man sin entered into the world, 
and through sin death, even so death came on all men, because all 
have sinned. 

According to this view, the corresponding clause is in the verse itself. 
The sentiment of the passage is this, — through one man sin entered and 
death followed ; and death followed as to all mankind, because all had 
sinned. Then, according to his usual manner, the Apostle takes up the 
last subject, " sin," issuing in the death of all ; and at the end of the 14th 
verse he goes back to " the one man," Adam, who he says was a type of 
another: and this sentence is made the text of what follows till the end of 
the 19th verse. Having before referred to the state of things before the 
" law," in the two remaining verses he refers to the bearing of the law on 
his subject, and shows that there is in Christ an abundant provision for the 
increase of sin occasioned by the law. 

So abundant is grace that it is fully sufficient to remove original sin, 
actual sins — its fruits, and the sins discovered by the law, and by its means 
increased and enhanced. Hence superabundance is ascribed to it. — Ed. 


not have generated seed but what was like himself. Hence 
we have all sinned ; for we are all imbued with natural cor- 
ruption, and so are become sinful and wicked. Frivolous 
then was the gloss, by which formerly the Pelagians endea- 
voured to elude the words of Paul, and held, that sin de- 
scended by imitation from Adam to the whole human race ; 
for Christ would in this case become only the exemplar and 
not the cause of righteousness. Besides, we may easily 
conclude, that he speaks not here of actual sin ; for if every 
one for himself contracted guilt, why did Paul form a com- 
parison between Adam and Christ ? It then follows that 
our innate and hereditary depravity is what is here re- 
ferred to. 1 

1 The particles If <£, at the end of this verse, have been variously ren- 
dered, without much change in the meaning. " In quo — in which," i.e., 
sin, Augustine ; " in quo — in whom," i.e., man, Chrysostorn, and Beza ; 
" per quem — by or through whom," Grotius ; " propterea quod," vel, 
" quia," vel, " quoniam — because," Luther, Parens, and Raphelius ; which 
is the same with that of Calvin. See Matt. xxvi. 50 ; 2 Cor. v. 4; Phil, 
iii. 12. 

Wolfius quotes a singular passage from a Jewish Rabbi, Moses Tranensis, 
" In the sin which the first man sinned, the whole world through him (or 
in him, "Q) sinned ; for he was every man, or all mankind — D*1N ?2 ilf ""J." 
The idea is exactly the same with that of the Apostle. 

" There are three things," says Parens, " which are to be considered in 
Adam's sin, — the sinful act, the penalty of the law, and the depravity of 
nature ; or in other words, the transgression of the command, the punish- 
ment of death, and natural corruption, which was the loss of God's image, 
and in its stead came deformity and disorder. From none of these his 
posterity are free, but all these have descended to them ; there is a parti- 
cipation of the transgression, an imputation of guilt, and the propagation 
of natural depravity. There is a participation of the sin ; for all his pos- 
terity were seminally in his loins, so that all sinned in his sin, as Levi 
paid tithes in the loins of Abraham ; and as children are a part of their 
parents, so children are in a manner partakers of their parents' sin. There 
is also an imputation of guilt ; for the first man so stood in favour, that 
when he sinned, not only he, but also all his posterity fell with him, and 
became with him subject to eternal death. And lastly, there is the pro- 
pagation or the generation of a dreadful deformity of nature ; for such as 
Adam became after the fall, such were the children he begat, being after 
his own image, and not after the image of God. Gen. v. 1.... All these 
things, as to the first sin, apply to the parent and also to the children, with 
only this difference — that Adam sinning first transgressed, first contracted 
guilt, and first depraved his nature, — and that all these things belong to his 
posterity by participation, imputation, and propagation." 

Both Stuart and Barnes stumble here; and though they denounce 
theorizing, and advocate adherence to the language of Scripture, they 
do yet theorize and attempt to evade the plain and obvious meaning 


13. For until the law, &c. This parenthesis anticipates 
an objection : for as there seems to be no transgression with- 
out the law, it might have been doubted whether there were 
before the law any sin : that there was after the law ad- 
mitted of no doubt. The question only refers to the time 
preceding the law. To this then he gives this answer — that 
though God had not as yet denounced judgment by a written 
law, yet mankind were under a curse, and that from the 
womb ; and hence that they who led a wicked and vicious 
life before the promulgation of the law, were by no means 
exempt from the condemnation of sin ; for there had always 
been some notion of a God, to whom honour was due, and 
there had ever been some rule of righteousness. This view 
is so plain and so clear, that of itself it disproves every op- 
posite notion. 

But sin is not imputed, &c. Without the law reproving us, 
we in a manner sleep in our sins ; and though we are not 
ignorant that we do evil, we yet suppress as much as we can 
the knowledge of evil offered to us, at least we obliterate 
it by quickly forgetting it. While the law reproves and 
chides us, it awakens us as it were by its stimulating power, 
that we may return to the consideration of God's judgment. 
The Apostle then intimates that men continue in their per- 
verseness when not roused by the law, and that when the 
difference between good and evil is laid aside, they securely 
and joyfully indulge themselves, as if there was no judgment 
to come. But that before the law iniquities were by God 
imputed to men is evident from the punishment of Cain, 
from the deluge by which the whole world was destroyed, 
from the fate of Sodom, and from the plagues inflicted on 
Pharaoh and Abimelech on account of Abraham, and also 

of this passage. But in trying to avoid one difficulty, they make for 
themselves another still greater. The penalty, or the imputation of guilt, 
they admit ; which is indeed undeniable, as facts, as well as Scripture, 
most clearly prove : but the participation they deny, though words could 
hardly be framed to express it more distinctly than the words of this verse ; 
and thus, according to their view, a punishment is inflicted without a pre- 
vious implication in an offence ; while the Scriptural account of the mat- 
ter is, according to what Calvin states, that " sin extends to all who suffer 
its punishment," though he afterwards explains this in a way that is not 
altogether consistent. — Ed. 


from the plagues brought on the Egyptians. That men also 
imputed sin to one another, is clear from the many com- 
plaints and expostulations by which they charged one an- 
other with iniquity, and also from the defences by which 
they laboured to clear themselves from accusations of doing 
wrong. There are indeed many examples which prove that 
every man was of himself conscious of what was evil and of 
what was good : but that for the most part they connived at 
their own evil deeds, so that they imputed nothing as a sin 
to themselves unless they were constrained. When there- 
fore he denies that sin without the law is imputed, he speaks 
comparatively ; for when men are not pricked by the goads 
of the law, they become sunk in carelessness. 1 

But Paul wisely introduced this sentence, in order that 
the Jews might hence more clearly learn how grievously 
they offended, inasmuch as the law openly condemned them ; 
for if they were not exempted from punishment whom God 
had never summoned as guilty before his tribunal, what 
would become of the Jews to whom the law, like a herald, 
had proclaimed their guilt, yea, on whom it denounced judg- 
ment ? There may be also another reason adduced why he 
expressly says, that sin reigned before the law, but was not 
imputed, and that is, that we may know that the cause of 
death proceeds not from the law, but is only made known 
by it. Hence he declares, that all became miserably lost 

1 This verse, as bearing on the argument, may he viewed rather differ- 
ently. This and the following verse contain an explanation or an illustra- 
tion of the last, the 12th. He states in this verse two things : a fact and 
a general principle ; the fact is, that sin, the first sin in its evident effects, 
(for he speaks throughout of no other sin, as to Adam, or as producing 
death,) was in the world before the law of Moses was given ; and the 
general principle he avows is, that no sin is imputed where there is no 
law. Having made this last admission, he proceeds in the 14th to say, 
that "nevertheless," or notwithstanding, death, the effect of sin, prevailed 
in the world, and prevailed even as to those who did not actually or per- 
sonally sin as Adam did. He takes no account of personal sins, for his 
object was to show the effects of the first sin. And then he says, that in 
this respect Adam was a kind of type, a figure, a representative of Christ 
who was to come ; and in the three verses which follow, the 15th, the 16th, 
and 17 th, he traces the similitude between the two, pointing out at the 
same time the difference, which in every instance is in favour of the last 
Adam. That two? signifies here likeness and not identity, is quite cer- 
tain, whatever may be its common meaning, because its import is exem- 
plified and illustrated in the verses which follow. — Ed. 


immediately after the fall of Adam, though their destruction 
was only made manifest by the law. If you translate the 
adversative Se, though, the text would run better; for the 
meaning is, that though men may indulge themselves, they 
cannot yet escape God's judgment, even when there is no 
law to reprove them. 

Death reigned from Adam, &c. He explains more clearly 
that it availed men nothing that from Adam to the time 
when the law was promulgated, they led a licentious and 
careless life, while the difference between good and evil was 
wilfully rejected, and thus, without the warning of the law, 
the remembrance of sin was buried ; yea, that this availed 
them nothing, because sin did yet issue in their condemna- 
tion. It hence appears, that death even then reigned ; for 
the blindness and obduracy of men could not stifle the judg- 
ment of God. 

14. Even over them, &c. Though this passage is com- 
monly understood of infants, who being guilty of no actual 
sin, die through original sin, I yet prefer to regard it as re- 
ferring to all those who sinned without the law ; for this 
verse is to be connected with the preceding clause, which 
says, that those who were without the law did not impute 
sin to themselves. Hence they sinned not after the simili- 
tude of Adam's transgression ; for they had not, like him, 
the will of God made known to them by a certain oracle : 
for the Lord had forbidden Adam to touch the fruit of the 
tree of the knowledge of good and evil ; but to them he 
had given no command besides the testimony of conscience. 
The Apostle then intended to imply, that it did not happen 
through the difference between Adam and his posterity 
that they were exempt from condemnation. Infants are at 
the same time included in their number. 

Who is a type of him who ivas to come. This sentence is 
put instead of a second clause ; for we see that one part 
only of the comparison is expressed, the other is omitted — 
an instance of what is called anacoluthon} You are then to 
take the meaning as though it was said, " As by one man 

1 ' ' Avax.'oXov6ov, not consequent : a figure in grammar when a word or a 
clause, required by a former one, is not put down. — Ed. 


sin entered into the whole world, and death through sin, so 
by one man righteousness returned, and life through right- 
eousness." But in saying that Adam bore a resemblance to 
Christ, there is nothing incongruous ; for some likeness 
often appears in things wholly contrary. As then we are 
all lost through Adam's sin, so we are restored through 
Christ's righteousness : hence he calls Adam not inaptly the 
type of Christ. But observe, that Adam is not said to be 
the type of sin, nor Christ the type of righteousness, as 
though they led the way only by their example, but that 
the one is contrasted with the other. Observe this, lest you 
should foolishly go astray with Origen, and be involved in a 
pernicious error ; for he reasoned philosophically and pro- 
fanely on the corruption of mankind, and not only dimi- 
nished the grace of Christ, but nearly obliterated it altoge- 
ther. The less excusable is Erasmus, who labours much in 
palliating a notion so grossly delirious. 

15. But not as the offence, so also 15. Sed non sicut delictum, ita et 

is the free gift. For if through the donum ; nam si unius delicto 1 multi 

offence of one many be dead ; much mortui sunt, multo magis gratia Dei 

more the grace of God, and the gift et donum Dei in gratia, quse fuit 

by grace, which is by one man, Jesus unius hominis Christi, in multos 

Christ, hath abounded unto many. abundavit. 

15. But not as the offence, &c. Now follows the rectifying 
or the completion of the comparison already introduced. 
The Apostle does not, however, very minutely state the 

1 Delicto — fault, w{«*™^« — stumbling, fall, transgression. Perhaps 
the last would be the best word here. It is rendered sometimes in the 
plural number "trespasses," Matt, xviii. 35; 2 Cor. v. 19; Eph. ii. 1. 
Macknight renders it here " fall," but most " offence." The comparison 
here is between the sin of one, which produced death, and the grace of 
God through one, which brings the " gift" of life ; and the difference, 
" much more," seems to refer to the exuberance of grace by which man is 
to be raised to a higher state than that from which Adam fell. " A little 
lower than the angels " was man in his first creation ; he is by exuberance 
of grace to be raised to a state as high as that of angels, if not higher ; or 
we may take " much more" as intimating the greater power of grace to 
recover than sin to destroy. Sin is the act of man, and issued in death ; but 
grace is the act of God, and will therefore with greater certainty issue in 

" Adam's life after his fall was even as a slow dying, that reached its 
completion in his physical death ; Christ's £fi>Dsr««w« of mankind is also 
gradual, the height of which is in the glorification of the body." — Olshausen. 


points of difference between Christ and Adam, but he ob- 
viates errors into which we might otherwise easily fall, and 
what is needful for an explanation we shall add. Though 
he mentions oftentimes a difference, yet there are none of 
these repetitions in which there is not a want of a corre- 
sponding clause, or in which there is not at least an ellipsis. 
Such instances are indeed defects in a discourse ; but they 
are not prejudicial to the majesty of that celestial wisdom 
which is taught us by the Apostle ; it has, on the contrary, 
so happened through the providence of God, that the highest 
mysteries have been delivered to us in the garb of an humble 
style, 1 in order that our faith may not depend on the potency 
of human eloquence, but on the efficacious working of the 
Spirit alone. 

He does not indeed even now expressly supply the defi- 
ciency of the former sentence, but simply teaches us, that 
there is a greater measure of grace procured by Christ, than 
of condemnation introduced by the first man. What some 
think, that the Apostle carries on here a chain of reasoning, 
I know not whether it will be deemed by all sufficiently 
evident. It may indeed be justly inferred, that since the 
fall of Adam had such an effect as to produce the ruin of 
many, much more efficacious is the grace of God to the be- 
nefit of many ; inasmuch as it is admitted, that Christ is 
much more powerful to save, than Adam was to destroy. 
But as they cannot be disproved, who wish to take the pas- 
sage without this inference, I am willing that they should 

1 " Sub contemptibili verborum humilitate." This sort of derogatory 
language as to the style of Scripture, Calvin had evidently learnt from the 
fathers. Chrysostom and Jerome did sometimes say most unwarrantable 
things in this respect, and that in a great measure because they did not 
understand the style of the New Testament, and in part with the view of 
taking away, by an admission, the force of objections alleged by admirers 
of Grecian and refined diction. The style of the New Testament is that 
of the Old ; and hardly any of the fathers, except Oriyen and Jerome, 
knew Hebrew, and the latter learnt it only in his old age, so that he could 
have had no great insight into its peculiarities. One like Chrysostom, 
brought up in the refinements of Grecian literature, was a very unfit judge 
of the style of the New Testament, and hence it is that the criticisms of 
the Greek fathers in general are comparatively of very little value. 

The whole of this passage, 12-19, is constructed according to the model 
of the Hebrew style ; and when rightly understood, it will appear to con- 
tain none of those defects ascribed to it. — Ed. 


choose either of these views ; though what next follows can- 
not be deemed an inference, yet it is of the same meaning. 
It is hence probable, that Paul rectifies, or by way of ex- 
ception modifies, what he had said of the likeness between 
Christ and Adam. 

But observe, that a larger number (plures) are not here 
contrasted with many (multis,) for he speaks not of the num- 
ber of men : but as the sin of Adam has destroyed many, he 
draws this conclusion, — that the righteousness of Christ will 
be no less efficacious to save many. 1 

When he says, by the offence of one, &c, understand him 
as meaning this, — that corruption has from him descended 
to us : for we perish not through his fault, as though we 
were blameless ; but as his sin is the cause of our sin, Paul 
ascribes to him our ruin : our sin I call that which is im- 
planted in us, and with which we are born. 

The grace of God and the gift of God through grace, &c. 
Grace is properly set in opposition to offence ; the gift which 
proceeds from grace, to death. Hence grace means the free 
goodness of God or gratuitous love, of which he has given us 
a proof in Christ, that he might relieve our misery : and 
gift is the fruit of this mercy, and hath come to us, even the 

1 It is evident that " the many," ei ^oXXoi, include those connected with 
the two parties — the many descendants of Adam, and the many believers 
in Christ. And " the many" was adopted to form a contrast with the 

"The many" are termed "all" in ver. 18, and again, "the many," in 
ver. 19. They are called "the many" and "all" alike with regard both 
to Adam and to Christ. Some maintain that the terms are coextensive 
in the two instances. That the whole race of man is meant in the one 
instance, cannot be doubted : and is there any reason why the whole race 
of man should not be included in the second ? Most clearly there is. The 
Apostle speaks of Adam and his posterity, and also of Christ and his people, 
or those " who receive abundance of grace," or, " are made righteous ;" 
and " the many " and the " all " are evidently those who belong to each se- 
parately. In no other way can the words Avith any consistency be under- 
stood. All who fell in Adam do not certainly " receive abundance of 
grace," and are not " made righteous." And it is not possible, as Profes- 
sor Hodge observes, " so to eviscerate such declarations as these, as to 
make them to contain nothing more than that the chance of salvation is 
offered to all men." This is indeed contrary to evident facts. Nor can 
they mean, that a way of acceptance has been opened, which is suitable to 
all ; for though this is true, it yet cannot be the meaning here. Hence 
" the many " and the " all," as to Adam, are all his descendants ; and " the 
many" and the " all," as to Christ, are those who believe. — Ed. 


reconciliation by which we have obtained life and salvation, 
righteousness, newness of life, and every other blessing. We 
hence see how absurdly the schoolmen have defined grace, 
who have taught that it is nothing else but a quality infused 
into the hearts of men : for grace, properly speaking, is in 
God ; and what is in us is the effect of grace. And he says, 
that it is by one man ; for the Father has made him the 
fountain out of whose fulness all must draw. And thus he 
teaches us, that not even the least drop of life can be found 
out of Christ, — that there is no other remedy for our poverty 
and want, than what he conveys to us from his own abund- 

16. And not as it was by one that 16. Et non sicut per umun qui 
sinned, 1 so is the gift : for the judg- peccaverat, ita donum ; judicium 
ment was by one to condemnation, enim ex uno in condemationem, do- 
but the free gift is of many offences num autem ex multis delictis in jus- 
unto j ustification . tificationem . 

16. This is especially an explanation of what he had said 
before, — that by one offence guilt issued in the condemna- 
tion of us all, but that grace, or rather the gratuitous gift, 
is efficacious to our justification from many offences. It is 
indeed an expansion of what the last verse contains ; for 
he had not hitherto expressed, how or in what respect Christ 
excelled Adam. This difference being settled, it appears 
evident, that their opinion is impious, who have taught that 
we recover nothing else by Christ but a freedom from ori- 
ginal sin, or the corruption derived from Adam. Observe 
also, that these many offences, from which he affirms we are 
freed through Christ, are not to be understood only of those 
which every one must have committed before baptism, but 

1 Many copies have a^a^^aTas — sin ; but it is a reading deemed by 
Oriesbach of less authority than the received text, a^a^rxiravros — sinning : 
yet there being good MSS. in its favour, and several versions, especially 
the Syriac and the Vulgate, and the passage requiring it, this reading is 
to be preferred. Then the rendering would be the following, — 

And not as through one sin, is the free gift — (taenfia. ;) for judgment 

was indeed from one sin to condemnation, but the free favour {x"-i' ff ~ 

/u,a) is from many trespasses to justification. 

It is the character of the Apostle's style to change his words, while the 

same idea is often intended. The comparison here is between the one sin 

which issued in condemnation, and the many trespasses or offences, from 

which a justification is the favour obtained. — Ed. 


also of those by which the saints contract daily new guilt ; 
and on account of which they would be justly exposed to 
condemnation, were they not continually relieved by this 

He sets gift in opposition to judgment : by the latter 
he means strict justice ; by the former, gratuitous pardon. 
From strict justice comes condemnation ; from pardon, abso- 
lution. Or, which is the same thing, were God to deal with 
us according to justice, we should be all undone ; but he 
justifies us freely in Christ. 

17. For if by one man's offence 17. Si enim unius delicto mors 

death reigned by one; much more they regnavit perunum; multo magis, 

which receive abundance of grace, qui exuberantiam gratise et donijus- 

and of the gift of righteousness, shall titise acceperunt, in vita regnabunt 

reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.) 1 per unum Iesum Christum.) 

17. For if for the offence of one, &c. He again subjoins a 
general explanation, on which he dwells still further ; for it 
was by no means his purpose to explain every part of the 
subject, but to state the main points. He had before de- 
clared, that the power of grace had surpassed that of sin : 
and by this he consoles and strengthens the faithful, and, at 
the same time, stimulates and encourages them to meditate 
on the benignity of God. Indeed the design of so studious 
a repetition was,' — that the grace of God might be worthily 
set forth, that men might be led from self-confidence to trust 
in Christ, that having obtained his grace they might enjoy 
full assurance ; and hence at length arises gratitude. The 
sum of the whole is this — that Christ surpasses Adam ; the 
sin of one is overcome by the righteousness of the other ; the 
curse of one is effaced by the grace of the other ; from one, 

1 This verse, according to the usual manner of the Apostle, -whose style 
is that of the Prophets, includes the two main ideas of the two preceding 
verses, in another form, and in an inverted order, as it refers first to the one 
offence and then to the one man, in the first clause ; and the same order is 
followed in the second ; " the exuberance of grace " is to cover the many 
offences before mentioned, as opposed to the one offence, and to one man is 
opposed one Christ Jesus. 

The reading lv r% t», though according to Griesbach, it is not, as to 
MSS., of equal authority with the received text, is yet to be preferred; for 
rod ho; makes a tautology, and destroys the order which we find preserved 
in the second clause. — Ed. 


death has proceeded, which is absorbed by the life which 
the other bestows. 

But the parts of this comparison do not correspond ; in- 
stead of adding, " the gift of life shall more fully reign and 
nourish through the exuberance of grace," he says, that " the 
faithful shall reign ;" which amounts to the same thins" : for 
the reign of the faithful is in life, and the reign of life is in 
the faithful. 

It may further be useful to notice here the difference be- 
tween Christ and Adam, which the Apostle omitted, not 
because he deemed it of no importance, but unconnected 
with his present subject. 

The first is, that by Adam's sin we are not condemned 
through imputation alone, as though we were punished only 
for the sin of another ; but we suffer his punishment, be- 
cause we also ourselves are guilty ; for as our nature is vi- 
tiated in him, it is regarded by God as having committed sin. 
But through the righteousness of Christ we are restored in 
a different way to salvation ; for it is not said to be accepted 
for us, because it is in us, but because we possess Christ 
himself with all his blessings, as given to us through the 
bountiful kindness of the Father. Hence the gift of right- 
eousness is not a quality with which Grod endows us, as 
some absurdly explain it, but a gratuitous imputation of 
righteousness ; for the Apostle plainly declares what he un- 
derstood by the word grace. The other difference is, that 
the benefit of Christ does not come to all men, while Adam 
has involved his whole race in condemnation ; and the rea- 
son of this is indeed evident ; for as the curse we derive 
from Adam is conveyed to us by nature, it is no wonder that 
it includes the whole mass ; but that we may come to a par- 
ticipation of the grace of Christ, we must be ingrafted in 
him by faith. Hence, in order to partake of the miserable 
inheritance of sin, it is enough for thee to be man, for it 
dwells in flesh and blood ; but in order to enjoy the right- 
eousness of Christ it is necessary for thee to be a believer ; 
for a participation of him is attained only by faith. He 
is communicated to infants in a peculiar way; for they have 
by covenant the right of adoption, by which they pass over 


unto a participation of Christ. 1 Of the children of the godly 
I speak, to whom the promise of grace is addressed ; for 
others are by no means exempted from the common lot. 

18. Therefore, as by the offence of 18. Itaque quemadmodum, per 

one judgment came upon all men to unius delictum, in omnes homines 

condemnation ; even so by the right- in condemnationem ; sic et per 

eousness of one the free gift came up- unius justificationem, in omnes 

on all men unto justification of life. homines in justificationem vitse. 

18. Therefore, &c. This is a defective sentence ; it will be 
complete if the words condemnation and justification be read 
in the nominative case ; as doubtless you must do in order 
to complete the sense. We have here the general conclusion 
from the preceding comparison ; for, omitting the mention 
of the intervening explanation, he now completes the com- 
parison, " As by the offence of one we were made (constituti) 
sinners ; so the righteousness of Christ is efficacious to jus- 
tify us." He does not say the righteousness — So/caioavvvv, 
but the justification — 8i/caia>/jLa, 2 of Christ, in order to remind 
us that he was not as an individual just for himself, but that 
the righteousness with which he was endued reached farther, 
in order that, by conferring this gift, he might enrich the 
faithful. He makes this favour common to all, because it is 
propounded to all, and not because it is in reality extended 
to all ; for though Christ suffered for the sins of the whole 
world, and is offered through God's benignity indiscrimin- 
ately to all, yet all do not receive him. 3 

1 The original is, " Habent enim in foedere jus adoptionis, quo in Christi 
communionem transeunt." — Ed. 

2 The meaning of this word is evident here ; for it stands in contrast 
with <xa£a,rtrwpa. — offence or transgression, in the former clause, and is 
identical in sense with vvuxiyi — obedience, in the next verse. It means 
what is appointed and adjudged as right ; and hence it is f endered " or- 
dinance," Luke i. 6 ; "judgment," Rom. i. 32 ; and, in verse 16 of this 
chapter, "justification," when it stands opposed to xarax^ifia — condemna- 
tion, and means absolution, acquittal, as the determination of the judge. 
It signifies here, that what Christ did was according to God's appoint- 
ment ; it was something directly contrary to offence or transgression ; and 
what it was is explained in the next verse by the word " obedience." 
Wolfius says, that liixaiap* is the satisfaction of Christ, or his active and 
passive obedience, verse 19, — that ^txaiottvm is the merit of Christ, obtained 
by his death and applied to us by faith, chap. iii. 22, — and that Itxalua-n 
is the act of justification which follows from the satisfaction of Christ, 
apprehended by faith. — Ed. 

3 " Nam etsi passus est Christus pro peccatis totius mundi, atque omni- 


These two words, which he had before used, judgment and 
grace, may be also introduced here in this form, " As it was 
through God's judgment that the sin of one issued in the 
condemnation of many, so grace will be efficacious to the 
justification of many." Justification of life is to be taken, 
in my judgment, for remission, which restores life to us, as 
though he called it life-giving. 1 For whence comes the hope 
of salvation, except that God is propitious to us ; and we 
must be just, in order to be accepted. Then life proceeds 
from justification. 2 

19. For as by one man's disobe- 19. Quemadmodum enim per dis- 

dience many were made sinners ; so obedientiam unius hominis peccatores 

by the obedience of one shall many constituti sunt multi ; sic et per obedi- 

be made righteous. entiam unius justi constituentur multi. 

This is no tautology, but a necessary explanation of the 
former verse. For he shows that we are guilty through the 
offence of one man, in such a manner as not to be ourselves 
innocent. He had said before, that we are condemned ; but 
that no one might claim for himself innocency, he also sub- 
joined, that every one is condemned because he is a sinner. 
And then, as he declares that we are made righteous through 
the obedience of Christ, we hence conclude that Christ, in 
satisfying the Father, has provided a righteousness for us. 

bus indifferenter Dei benignitate offertur; non tamen omnes apprehen- 
dunv w It appears from this sentence that Calvin held general redemp- 
tion. — tid. 

1 It is an Hebraistic form of speaking, genitivus cfectus. Its meaning 
is, that it is a justification unto life, whose end is life, or, which issues in 
life, that is, eternal life, according to its import in verse 17, when reigning 
in life — *> £&>»;, is spoken of; and the word " eternal," is added to it in the 
last verse. This life commences with justification, and therefore this view 
includes what Calvin says, though it extends farther. — Ed. 
^2? In our version are introduced "judgment " and " free-gift," from verse 
16 ; and it is what has been done by most interpreters. The words are 
found here in no MSS. ; but there is another reading countenanced by four 
MSS., as given by Griesbach, and two of them ancient; the word for 
offence is put in the nominative case, to ■xa^a.^ruf/.a., and the word for 
righteousness the same, to ^ixkiu^o.. Then the reading would be — 

18. So then, as through one the transgression was, as to all men, 

unto condemnation ; so also through one the righteousness is, 

as to all men, unto justification of life. 
This agrees better with the following verse, though the meaning is sub- 
stantially the same with what is given in our version. — Ed. 


It then follows, that righteousness is in Christ, and that it 
is to be received by us as what peculiarly belongs to him. 
He at the same time shows what sort of righteousness it is, 
by calling it obedience. And here let us especially observe 
what we must bring into God's presence, if we seek to be 
justified by works, even obedience to trie law, not to this or 
to that part, but in every respect perfect ; for when a just 
man falls, all his former righteousness will not be remem- 
bered. We may also hence learn, how false are the schemes 
which they take to pacify God, who of themselves devise 
what they obtrude on him. For then only we truly worship 
him when we follow what he has commanded us, and render 
obedience to his word. Away then with those who confi- 
dently lay claim to the righteousness of works, which cannot 
otherwise exist than when there is a full and complete ob- 
servance of the law ; and it is certain that this is nowhere 
to be found. We also learn, that they are madly foolish 
who vaunt before God of works invented by themselves, 
which he regards as the filthiest things ; for obedience is 
better than sacrifices. 

20. Moreover, the law entered, 20. Lex vero intervenit, ut abun- 
that the offence might abound : l but daret delictum ; ubi vero abundavit 
where sin abounded, grace did much delictum, superabundavit et gratia : 
more abound : 

21. That as sin hath reigned unto 21. Quo, sicut regnavit peccatum 
death, even so might grace reign per mortem, sic et gratia regnet per 
through righteousness unto eternal justitiaminvitamseternamperlesum 
life by Jesus Christ our Lord. Christum Dominum nostrum. 

20. But the law intervened, &c. This subject depends on 
what he had said before, — that there was sin before the law 
was published. This being the case, then follows immedi- 
ately this question — For what purpose was the law given ? 
It was therefore necessary to solve this difficulty ; but as a 
longer digression was not suitable, he deferred the subject 

1 nxiovao-n, which means to grow more and more, to increase, to multi- 
ply: it is a different verb from that in the last clause. "What he calls 
" offence" or " fall" in this member of the sentence, he calls " sin" in the 
next. It is still " the fall" or " the sin" which caused it: for that is 
the parent of every other sin. — Ed. 


and handled it in another place : and now by the way he 
only says, that the law entered/ that sin might abound ; 
for he describes not here the whole office and use of the law, 
but only touches on one part, which served his present pur- 
pose. He indeed teaches us, that it was needful that men's 
ruin should be more fully discovered to them, in order that 
a passage might be opened for the favour of God. They 
were indeed shipwrecked before the law was given ; as how- 
ever they seemed to themselves to swim, while in their de- 
struction, they were thrust down into the deep, that their 
deliverance might appear more evident, when they thence 
emerge beyond all human expectation. Nor was it unrea- 
sonable, that the law should be partly introduced for this 
end — that it might again condemn men already condemned; 
for nothing is more reasonable than that men should, 
through all means be brought, nay, forced, by being proved 
guilty, to know their own evils. 

That offence wight abound, &c. It is well known how 
some, following Augustine, usually explain this passage, — 
that lust is irritated the more, while it is checked by the 
restraints of the law ; for it is man's nature to strive for 
what is forbidden. But I understand no other increase to 
be intended here than that of knowledge and of obstinacy ; 
for sin is set by the law before the eyes of man, that he may 
be continually forced to see that condemnation is prepared 
for him. Thus sin disturbs the conscience, which, when cast 

1 " Intercessisse legem — that the law came between," i.e., Adam and 
Christ ; vru(><.i<r>ixhv, from sr«g a, with, besides, or between, and uA^x, ^', 
to enter. It occurs elsewhere only in Gal. ii. 4, where it is rendered, 
" came in privily," as required by the context. But it cannot be so ren- 
dered here. Schleusner says, that it simply means to enter, and that it is 
60 used by Philo. It is thus rendered by the Syriac and Arabic versions. 
Erasmus has " obiter subiit, vel, irrepsit — came, or, crept in by the by ;" 
Hammond has the same ; but Baza attaches the idea of besides to *«£«, — 
" prseterea introiit — entered in besides," i.e., in addition to the disease 
under which all men laboured, having been contaminated by that of the 
first sin. " Intervcnit — intervened," is the rendering of Orotius ; that is, 
the law intervened between the beginning of sin and the beginning of new 
righteousness. " The law," says Hodge, " was superinduced on a plan 
already laid. It was not designed for the accomplishment of man's 
salvation, that is, either for his justification or sanctification, but for the 
accomplishment of a very subordinate part in the great scheme of mercy." 
— Ed. 


behind them, men forget. And farther, he who before only 
passed over the bounds of justice, becomes now, when the 
law is introduced, a despiser of God's authority, since the 
will of God is made known to him, which he now wantonly 
tramples under feet. It hence follows, that sin is increased 
by the law, since now the authority of the lawgiver is de- 
spised and his majesty degraded. 1 

Grace has superabounded. After sin has held men sunk 
in ruin, grace then comes to their help : for he teaches us, 
that the abundance of grace becomes for this reason more 
illustrious, — that while sin is overflowing, it pours itself 
forth so exuberantly, that it not only overcomes the flood of 
sin, but wholly absorbs it. 2 And we may hence learn, that 
our condemnation is not set before us in the law, that we 
may abide in it ; but that having fully known our misery, 
we may be led to Christ, who is sent to be a physician to 
the sick, a deliverer to the captives, a comforter to the 
afflicted, a defender to the oppressed. (Is. lxi. 1.) 

21. That as sin has reigned, &c. As sin is said to be the 
sting of death, and as death has no power over men, excej)t 
on account of sin ; so sin executes its power by death : it is 
hence said to exercise thereby its dominion. In the last 
clause the order of the words is deranged, but yet not 
without reason. The simple contrast might have been thus 
formed, — " That righteousness may reign through Christ/' 
But Paul was not content to oppose what is contrary to 
what is contrary, but adds the word grace, that he might 
more deeply print this truth on the memory — that the whole 
is to be ascribed, not to our merit, but to the kindness of 

1 Chrysostom regarded SW here as denoting not the final cause, but the 
event, and thought the meaning to be, that the law entered, so that the 
effect or event was, that sin increased. Its rendering would then be, so 
that : and this seems to be the meaning given to it by Calvin. The law 
did not create sin, but made it known, and by discovering it, increased its 
guilt when persisted in, and by discovering it showed the necessity of a 

2 The superabounding has a reference to the increasing of sin by means 
of the law. Grace not only abounded so as to be sufficient to remedy the 
first sin and the sins which followed it ; but it abounded still more, so as 
to be an adequate provision for sin when increased by the law, through 
the perverseness of human nature. — Ed. 


God. 1 He had previously said, that death reigned ; he now 
ascribes reigning to sin ; but its end or effect is death. 
And he says, that it has reigned, in the past tense ; not 
that it has ceased to reign in those who are born only of 
flesh, and he thus distinguishes between Adam and Christ, 
and assigns to each his own time. Hence as soon as the 
grace of Christ begins to prevail in any one, the reign -of sin 
and death ceases. 2 

1 The antithesis to " sin" is properly " righteousness ;" but, as Calvin 
observes, " grace" is connected with it. To preserve the contrast, the 
sentence might be rendered, " grace through righteousness ;" and then to 
show the medium or channel through which this '•' grace through right- 
eousness" is to reign so as to issue in " eternal life," it is added, " through 
Jesus Christ our Lord." So that in this single sentence, we have the 
origin, '■' grace," the means or the meritorious cause, " righteousness," 
the agent, or the procurer of it, " Jesus Christ," and the end, " eternal 
life." Some take " grace" as antithetic to sin, and connect " righteous- 
ness" with " eternal life," and render it " justification ;" but this does not 
so well preserve the antithetic character of the clause. Those who ren- 
der it " holiness" completely misunderstand the drift of the passage. 

The first part is differently rendered : instead of " unto death," Ham- 
mond renders it, like Calvin, " through death," and Grotius, " by (per) 
death." The preposition is ^ and not "V, and its common meaning is 
" in," and it may be here translated, " in death ;" i.e., in a state of 
death. The reign of sin was that of death and misery ; the reign of grace 
through Christ's righteousness is that of life and happiness, which is never 
to end. — Ed. 

8 That the antitheses of this remarkable passage, from verse 12 to the 
end, may be more clearly seen, it shall be presented in lines. The con- 
trast in verses 12 and 20 will be found in the first and last line and in the 
second and the third ; and as to all the other verses, in the first and the 
third line and in the second and the fourth, except the 13th and the 14th, 
which are an explanation of the 12th. The 17th includes the two ideas of 
the 15th and 16th, in an inverted order. The 18th and 19th contain the 
summing up of the argument, — 

12. For this reason, — as by one man sin entered into the world, 
And death by sin, 

Even so death came upon all men, — 
Because all had sinned : 

13. Sin indeed was until the law in the world, 
But sin is not imputed when there is no law ; 

14. Yet reign did death from Adam to Moses 
Even over those who had not sinned 

After the likeness of the transgression of Adam, 
Who is the type of him who was to come. 

15. But not as the transgression, 
So also the free favour ; 

For if through the transgression of one 
Many died, 



1. What shall we say then? Shall 1. Quid ergo dicemus Pmanebi- 
we continue in sin, that grace may mus in peccato, ut gratia abundet ? 
abound ? 

2. God forbid. How shall we, 2. Ne sit ita : qui mortui sumus 
that are dead to sin, live any longer peccato, quomodo adhuc vivemus in 
therein ? eo ? 

1. What then shall we say? Throughout this chapter the 
Apostle proves, that they who imagine that gratuitous right- 
eousness is given us by him, apart from newness of life, 
shamefully rend Christ asunder : nay, he goes further, and 
refers to this objection, — that there seems in this case to be 
an opportunity for the display of grace, if men continued 

Much more has God's grace, and his free gift through the 

grace of one man, Jesus Christ, 
Abounded unto many : 

16. And not as through one sin, 
So the free gift ; 

For judgment was indeed 

Through one sin to condemnation, 

But the free favour 

Is from many transgressions to justification : — 

17. For if for one transgression, 
Death reigned through one ; 

Much more shall they, who receive abundance of grace 

and of the gift of righteousness, 
Reign in life through one, Jesus Christ. 

18. So then, as through one transgression, 
Judgment was on all men to condemnation ; 
So also through one righteousness, 

The free favour is on all men to justification of life : 

19. For as through the disobedience of one man, 
Sinful were made many ; 

So also through the obedience of one, 
Righteous shall be made many. 

20. But the law entered in, 

That multiplied might be transgression ; 

But where sin multiplied, 

Superabounded has grace : 

So that as sin reigned 

Into death ; 

So also grace shall reign through righteousness, 

Into eternal life, through Jesus Christ our Lord. — Ed, 


fixed in sin. We indeed know that nothing is more natural 
than that the flesh should indulge itself under any excuse, 
and also that Satan should invent all kinds of slander, in 
order to discredit the doctrine of grace ; which to him is by 
no means difficult. For since everything that is announced., 
concerning Christ seems very paradoxical to human judg- 
ment, it ought not to be deemed a new thing, that the flesh, 
hearing of justification by faith, should so often strike, as it 
were, against so many stumbling-stones. Let us, however, 
go on in our course ; nor let Christ be suppressed, because 
he is to many a stone of offence, and a rock of stumbling ; 
for as he is for ruin to the ungodly, so he is to the godly for 
a resurrection. We ought, at the same time, ever to obviate 
unreasonable questions, lest the Christian faith should ap- 
pear to contain anything absurd. 

The Apostle now takes notice of that most common ob- 
jection against the preaching of divine grace, which is this, 
- — " That if it be true, that the more bountifully and abun- 
dantly will the grace of God aid us, the more completely we 
are overwhelmed with the mass of sin ; then nothing is 
better for us than to be sunk into the depth of sin, and often 
to provoke God's wrath with new offences ; for then at length 
we shall find more abounding grace; than which nothing 
better can be desired." The refutation of this we shall here- 
after meet with. 

2. By no means. To some the Apostle seems to have only 
intended indignantly to reprove a madness so outrageous ; 
but it appears from other places that he commonly used an 
answer of this kind, even while carrying on a long argument ; 
as indeed he does here, for he proceeds carefully to disprove 
the propounded slander. He, however, first rejects it by an 
indignant negative, in order to impress it on the minds of 
his readers, that nothing can be more inconsistent than that 
the grace of Christ, the repairer of our righteousness, should 
nourish our vices. 

Who have died to sin, kc. An argument derived from 
what is of an opposite character. " He who sins certainly 
lives to sin ; we have died to sin through the grace of Christ ; 
then it is false, that what abolishes sin gives vigour to it/' 


The state of the case is really this, — that the faithful are 
never reconciled to God without the gift of regeneration ; 
nay, we are for this end justified, — that we may afterwards 
serve God in holiness of life. Christ indeed does not cleanse 
us hy his blood, nor render God propitious to us by his ex- 
piation, in any other way than by making us partakers of 
his Spirit, who renews us to a holy life. It would then be a 
most strange inversion of the work of God were sin to gather 
strength on account of the grace which is offered to us in 
Christ ; for medicine is not a feeder of the disease, which it 
destroys. 1 We must further bear in mind, what I have 
already referred to — that Paul does not state here what God 
finds us to be, when he calls us to an union with his Son, 
but what it behoves us to be, after he has had mercy on us, 
and has freely adopted us ; for by an adverb, denoting a 
future time, he shows what kind of change ought to follow 

1 This phrase, " died to sin," is evidently misapprehended by Haldane. 
Having been offended, and justly so, by an unguarded and erroneous ex- 
pression of Stuart, derived from Chrysostom, and by the false rendering of 
Macknight, he went to another extreme, and maintained, that to die, or to 
be dead to sin, means to be freed from its guilt, while the whole context 
proves, that it means deliverance from its power as a master, from the 
servitude or bondage of sin. To live in it, does not mean to live under 
its guilt, but in its service and under its ruling power ; and this is what 
the Apostle represents as a contrast to being dead to sin. Not to " serve 
sin," in ver. 6, is its true explanation. See also verses 11, 12, and 14. 

The very argument requires this meaning. The question in the first 
verse, — " Shall we continue in sin ?" does not surely mean — shall we con- 
tinue in or under the guilt of sin ? but in its service, and in the practice 
of it. It was the charge of practical licentiousness that the Apostle rebuts ; 
and he employs an argument suitable to the purpose, "If we are dead to 
sin, freed from it as our master, how absurd it is to suppose that we can 
live any longer in its service ?" Then he shows in what follows how this 
had been effected. This is clearly the import of the passage, and so taken 
by almost all commentators. 

But it must be added, that Venema and Chalmers materially agree with 
Haldane. The former says, that to " die to sin " is to give to sin what it 
demands, and that is, death ; and that when this is given, it can require 
nothing more. In this sense, he adds, Christ died to sin (ver. 10) ; and in 
the same sense believers die to sin, being, as they are, united to Christ, 
his death being viewed as their death. However true this theology may 
be, (and Chalmers shows this in his own inimitable manner,) it does not 
seem to be taught here : though there may be something in one or two 
expressions to favour it ; yet the whole tenor of the passage, and many of 
the phrases, seem clearly to constrain us to adopt the other view.— Ed. 


3. Know ye not, that so many of 3. Xum ignoratis quod quicun- 
us as were baptized into Jesus Christ que baptizati sumus in Christum, in 
were baptized into his death ? mortem ejus baptizati sumus ? 

4. Therefore we are buried with 4. Consepulti ergo sumus ei per 
him by baptism into death : that like baptismum in mortem ; ut quemad- 
as Christ was raised up from the dead modum suscitatus est Christus ex 
by the glory of the Father, even so mortuis per gloriam Patris, sic et nos 
we also should walk in newness of in novitate vitse ambulemus. 


3. Know ye not, &c. What he intimated in the last verse 
— that Christ destroys sin in his people, he proves here by 
mentioning the effect of baptism, by which we are initiated 
into his faith ; for it is beyond any question, that we put on 
Christ in baptism, and that we are baptized for this end — 
that we may be one with him. But Paul takes up another 
principle — that we are then really united to the body of 
Christ, when his death brings forth in us its fruit ; yea, he 
teaches us, that this fellowship as to death is what is to be 
mainly regarded in baptism ; for not washing alone is set 
forth in it, but also the putting to death and the dying of 
the old man. It is hence evident, that when we become 
partakers of the grace of Christ, immediately the efficacy of 
his death appears. But the benefit of this fellowship as to 
the death of Christ is described in what follows. 1 

4. We have then been buried with him, &c. He now be- 
gins to indicate the object of our having been baptized into 

1 " Baptized into (us) Christ," " baptized into (us) Moses," 1 Cor. x. 2, 
" baptized into (us) one body," 1 Cor. xii. 13, are all the same forms of 
expression, and must mean, that by the rite of baptism a professed union 
is made, and, in the two first instances, a submission to the authority exer- 
cised is avowed. By " baptized into his death," we are to understand, 
" baptized," in order to die with him, or to die as he died ; not that the 
death is the same ; for it is a like death, as it is expressed in ver. 5, as the 
resurrection is a like resurrection. His death was natural, ours is spiritual ; 
the same difference holds as to the resurrection. It is the likeness that is 
throughout to be regarded ; and this is the key to the whole passage. It 
is true, that through the efficacy of Christ's death alone the death of his 
people takes place, and through the operation of his Spirit ; but to teach 
this is not the design of the Apostle here ; his object seems to be merely 
to show that a change takes place in every true Christian, symbolized by 
baptism, and that this change bears a likeness to the death and resurrec- 
tion of our Saviour. He speaks of baptism here not merely as a symbol, 
but as including what it symbolizes ; as he does in a similar passage, 
Col. ii. 11, 12, where he refers to this change, first under the symbol of 
circumcision, and then of baptism ; which clearly proves that the same 
thing is signified by both. — Ed. 


the death of Christ, though he does not yet completely un- 
fold it ; and the object is — that we, being dead to ourselves, 
may become new creatures. He rightly makes a transition 
from a fellowship in death to a fellowship in life ; for these 
two things are connected together by an indissoluble knot — 
that the old man is destroyed by the death of Christ, and 
that his resurrection brings righteousness, and renders us 
new creatures. And surely, since Christ has been given to 
us for life, to what purpose is it that we die with him except 
that we may rise to a better life ? And hence for no other 
reason does he slay what is mortal in us, but that he may 
give us life again. 

Let us know, that the Apostle does not simply exhort us 
to imitate Christ, as though he had said that the death of 
Christ is a pattern which all Christians are to follow ; for no 
doubt he ascends higher, as he announces a doctrine, with 
which he connects, as it is evident, an exhortation ; and his 
doctrine is this — that the death of Christ is efficacious 
to destroy and demolish the depravity of our flesh, and his 
resurrection, to effect the renovation of a better nature, and 
that by baptism we are admitted into a participation of this 
grace. This foundation being laid, Christians may very 
suitably be exhorted to strive to respond to their calling. 
Farther, it is not to the point to say, that this power is not 
apparent in all the baptized ; for Paul, according to his usual 
manner, where he speaks of the faithful, connects the reality 
and the effect with the outward sign ; for we know that 
whatever the Lord offers by the visible symbol is confirmed 
and ratified by their faith. In short, he teaches what is the 
real character of baptism when rightly received. So he tes- 
tifies to the Galatians, that all who have been baptized into 
Christ, have put on Christ. (Gal. iii. 27.) Thus indeed 
must we speak, as long as the institution of the Lord and 
the faith of the godly unite together ; for we never have 
naked and empty symbols, except when our ingratitude and 
wickedness hinder the working of divine beneficence. 1 

1 That the mode of baptism, immersion, is intimated by " buried," has 
been thought by most, by Chrysostom, Augustine, Hammond, Pareus, 
Mede, Orotius, Doddridge, Chalmers, and others; while some, such as 
Scott, Stuart, and Hodge, do not consider this as necessarily intended, the 


By the glory of the Father, that is, by that illustrious 
power by which he exhibited himself as really glorious, and 
as it were manifested the greatness of his glory. Thus often 
is the power of God, which was exercised in the resurrection 
of Christ, set forth in Scripture in sublime terms, and not 
without reason ; for it is of great importance, that by so 
explicit a record of the ineffable power of God, not only faith 
in the last resurrection, which far exceeds the perception of 
the flesh, but also as to other benefits which we receive from 
the resurrection of Christ, should be highly commended to us. 1 

5. For if we have been planted 5. Nam si insititii facti sumus 
together in the likeness of his death, similitudini mortis ejus, nimirum 
we shall be also in the likeness of his et resurrectionis participes erimus : 
resurrection : 

6. Knowing this, that our old man 6. Ulud scientes, quod vetus nos- 
is crucified with him, that the body ter homo simul cum ipso crucifixus 
of sin might be destroyed, that hence- est, iit aboleretur corpus peccati, ut 
forth we should not serve sin. non ultra serviamus peccato. 

5. For if we have been ingrafted, &c. He strengthens in 
plainer words the argument he has already stated ; for the 
similitude which he mentions leaves now nothing doubtful, 
inasmuch as grafting designates not only a conformity of 
example, but a secret union, by which we are joined to him ; 
so that he, reviving us by his Spirit, transfers his own virtue 
to us. Hence as the graft has the same life or death in 
common with the tree into which it is ingrafted, so it is 

word " buried " having been adopted to express more fully what is meant 
by being " dead," and there being another word, " planted," used to con- 
vey the same idea, which cannot be applied to the rite of baptism. 

" Buried with him," means buried like him, or in like manner ; and so 
" crucified with him," in verse G, is the same : «uv prefixed to verbs, has 
clearly this meaning. See chap. viii. 17; Col. iii. 1 ; 2 Tim. ii. 11. " Into 
death " is not to be connected with " planted," but with " baptism ;" it 
was " a baptism into death," that is, which represented death, even death 
unto sin. — Ed. 

1 Beza takes S;a, by, before " glory," in the sense of tU, to, " to the glory 
of the Father ;" but this is unusual. It seems to be a metonymy, the 
effect for the cause : it was done by power which manifested and redounded 
to the glory of God. The word " glory," §«?«, is used for power in John 
xi. 40. The Hebrew word, ])]), strength, power, is sometimes rendered 
Vo\a. by the Septuagint; see Ps. lxvii. 34, (in our version, lxviii. 34;) Is. 
xii. 2 ; xlv. 24. God's favour is often expressly mentioned in connection 
with the resurrection; See 1 Cor. vi. 14 ; 2 Cor. xiii. 4 ; Col. i. 11. — Ed. 


reasonable that we should be partakers of the life no less 
than of the death of Christ ; for if we are ingrafted accord- 
ing to the likeness of Christ's death, which was not without 
a resurrection, then our death shall not be without a resur- 
rection. But the words admit of a twofold explanation, — 
either that we are ingrafted in Christ into the likeness of his 
death, or, that we are simply ingrafted in its likeness. The 
first reading would require the Greek dative ojiotafiari, to 
be understood as pointing out the manner ; nor do I deny- 
but that it has a fuller meaning : but as the other harmonizes 
more with simplicity of expression, I have preferred it ; 
though it signifies but little, as both come to the same 
meaning. Chrysostom thought that Paul used the expres- 
sion, " likeness of death/' for death, as he says in another 
place, " being made in the likeness of men." But it seems 
to me that there is something more significant in the ex- 
pression ; for it not only serves to intimate a resurrection, 
but it seems also to indicate this — that we die not like Christ 
a natural death, but that there is a similarity between our 
and his death ; for as he by death died in the flesh, which 
he had assumed from us, so we also die in ourselves, that 
we may live in him. It is not then the same, but a similar 
death ; for we are to notice the connection between the 
death of our present life and spiritual renovation. 

Ingrafted, &c. There is great force in this word, and it 
clearly shows, that the Apostle does not exhort, but rather 
teach us what benefit we derive from Christ ; for he requires 
nothing from us, which is to be done by our attention and 
diligence, but speaks of the grafting made by the hand of 
God. But there is no reason why you should seek to apply 
the metaphor or comparison in every particular ; for between 
the grafting of trees, and this which is spiritual, a disparity 
will soon meet us : in the former the graft draws its aliment 
from the root, but retains its own nature in the fruit ; but 
in the latter not only we derive the vigour and nourishment 
of life from Christ, but we also pass from our own to his 
nature. The Apostle, however, meant to express nothing 
else but the efficacy of the death of Christ, which mani- 
fests itself in putting to death our flesh, and also the effi- 


cacy of his resurrection, in renewing within us a spiritual 
nature. 1 

6. That our old man, &c. The old man, as the Old Tes- 
tament is so called with reference to the New ; for he be- 
gins to be old, when he is by degrees destroyed by a com- 
mencing regeneration. But what he means is the whole 
nature which we bring from the womb, and which is so in- 
capable of the kingdom of God, that it must so far die as 
we are renewed to real life. This old man, he says, is fas- 
tened to the cross of Christ, for by its power he is slain : 
and he expressly referred to the cross, that he might more 
distinctly show, that we cannot be otherwise put to death 
than by partaking of his death. For I do not agree with 
those who think that he used the word crucified, rather than 
dead, because he still lives, and is in some respects vigorous. 
It is indeed a correct sentiment, but not suitable to this 
passage. The body of sin, which he afterwards mentions, 

1 The word <ru/u.<puroi, is rendered insititii by Calvin, and the same by 
Erasmus, Parens, and Hammond. The Vulgate has " complantati — 
planted together ;" Beza, " cum eo plantati coahiimus — being planted with 
him Ave grow together ;" Doddridge, " grow together ;" and Macknight, 
"planted together." The word properly means either to grow together, 
or, t to be born together ; and <p6* never means to graft. It is only found 
here ; and it is applied by the Septuagint, in Zech. xi. 2, to a forest grow- 
ing together. The verb av^iu is once used in Luke viii. 7, and refers to 
the thorns which sprang up with the corn. It occurs as a participle in the 
same sense in the Wisdom of Solomon, xiii. 13. It appears from Wolfius 
that the word is used by Greek authors in a sense not strictly literal, to 
express congeniality, conjoining, union, as the sameness of disposition, or 
the joining together of a dismembered limb, or, as Grotius says, the union 
ef friendship. It might be so taken here, and the verse might be thus 
rendered, — 

For if we have been united (or, connected) by a similarity to his 
death, we shall certainly be also united by a similarity to his resur- 

The genitive case here may be regarded as that of the object, as the 
love of God means sometimes love to God. Evidently the truth intended 
to be conveyed is, that as the Christian's death to sin bears likeness to 
Christ's death, so his rising to a spiritual life is certain to bear a similar 
likeness to Christ's resurrection. Then in the following verses this is more 
fully explained. 

" The Apostle," says Beza, " uses the future tense, ' we shall be,' 
because we are not as yet wholly dead, or wholly risen, but are daily 
emerging." But the future here, as Stuart remarks, may be considered 
as expressing what is to follow the death previously mentioned, or as de- 
signating an obligation, as in Matt. iv. 10; Luke iii. 10, 12, 14; or a 
certainty as to the result. — Ed. 


does not mean flesh and bones, but the corrupted mass ; for 
man, left to his own nature, is a mass made up of sin. 

He points out the end for which this destruction is effected, 
when he says, so that we may no longer serve sin. It hence 
follows, that as long as we are children of Adam, and no- 
thing more than men, we are so in bondage to sin, that we 
can do nothing else but sin ; but that being grafted in 
Christ, we are delivered from this miserable thraldom ; not 
that we immediately cease entirely to sin, but that we be- 
come at last victorious in the contest. 

7. For he that is dead is freed 7. Qui enim mortuus est, justifi- 
from sin. catus est a peccato. 

8. Now, if we be dead with Christ, 8. Si vero mortui sumus cum 
we believe that we shall also live Christo, credimus quod et vivemus 
with him : cum eo ; 

9. Knowing that Christ, being rais- 9. Scientes quod Christus susci- 
ed from the dead, dieth no more ; tatus ex mortuis, amplius non mori- 
death hath no more dominion over tur, mors illi amplius non domina- 
him. tur : 

10. For in that he died, he died 10. Quod enim mortuus est, pec- 
unto sin once : but in that he liveth, cato mortuus est semel ; quod autem 
he liveth unto God. vivit, vivit Deo. 

11. Likewise reckon ye also your- 11. Sic et ipsi sestimate vosmet 
selves to be dead indeed unto sin, but esse mortuos quidem peccato, viven- 
alive unto God through Jesus Christ tes autem Deo in Christo Iesu Do- 
om- Lord. mino nostro. 

7. For he who ha,s died, &c. This is an argument derived 
from what belongs to death or from its effect. For if death 
destroys all the actions of life, we who have died to sin ought 
to cease from those actions which it exercised during its 
life. Take justified for freed or reclaimed from bondage ; 
for as he is freed from the bond of a charge, who is absolved 

1 It is thought by Pareus and others, that " body " is here assigned to 
" sin," in allusion to the crucifixion that is mentioned, as a body in that 
case is fixed to the cross, and that it means the whole congeries, or, as Cal- 
vin calls it, the whole mass of sins, such as pride, passion, lust, &c. But 
the reason for using the word " body," is more probably this, because he 
called innate sin, man — " the old man ;" and what properly belongs to man 
is a body. ' The " body of sin " is a Hebraism, and signifies a sinful body. 
It has no special reference to the material body, as Origen thought. The 
" man " here is to be taken in a spiritual sense, as one who has a mind, 
reason, and affections : therefore the body which belongs to him must be 
of the same character : it is the whole of what appertains to " the old man," 
as he is corrupt and sinful, the whole of what is earthly, wicked, and de- 
praved in him. It is the sinful body of the old man. — Ed. 


by the sentence of a judge ; so death, by freeing us from 
this life, sets us free from all its functions. 1 

But though among men there is found no such example, 
there is yet no reason why you should think, that what is 
said here is a vain speculation, or despond in your minds, 
because you find not yourselves to be of the number of those 
who have wholly crucified the flesh ; for this work of God is 
not completed in the day in which it is begun in us ; but 
it gradually goes on, and by daily advances is brought by 
degrees to its end. So then take this as the sum of the 
whole, — " If thou art a Christian, there must appear in thee 
an evidence of a fellowship as to the death of Christ ; the 
fruit of which is, that thy flesh is crucified together with all 
its lusts ; but this fellowship is not to be considered as not 
existing, because thou findest that the relics of the flesh still 
live in thee ; but its increase ought to be diligently laboured 
for, until thou arrivest at the goal." It is indeed well with 
us, if our flesh is continually mortified ; nor is it a small at- 
tainment, when the reigning power, being taken away from 
it, is wielded by the Holy Spirit. There is another fellow- 
ship as to the death of Christ, of which the Apostle often 
speaks, as he does in 2 Cor.iv., that is, the bearing of the cross, 
which is followed by a joint-participation also of eternal life. 

8. But if we have died, &c. He repeats this for no other 
end but that he might subjoin the explanation which fol- 
lows, that Christ, having once risen, dies no more. And 

1 This verse has occasioned various explanations. The most obvious 
meaning of the first clause is, that to " die " here means to die with or in 
a similar manner with Christ, for in the next verse, where the idea is re- 
sumed, " with " or like " Christ," is expressly stated. The verb, ^sSmaia- 
rai, " is," or has been " justified," has been considered by the early and 
most of the later commentators in the sense of being freed or delivered. 
This is the view, among others, of Cltrysostom, Basil, QZcumenius, Beza, 
Parens, Hammond, Grotius, Doddridge, and Macknight. But it must 
be added, that it is a meaning of which there is no other clear instance in 
the New Testament, though the verb occurs often. Scott) aware of this, 
gives it its common meaning, "justified ;" and though he does not take the 
view of V enema, Chalmers, and Haldane, as to the general import of the 
former part of this chapter, he yet considers that to be " justified from 
sin" here, is to be justified from its guilt and penalty. Nor is it irrele- 
vant to the subject in hand to refer to justification : for it is a very impor- 
tant truth to declare, that to die to sin is an evidence of being justified 
from its guilt. — Ed. 


hereby he teaches us that newness of life is to be pursued by 
Christians as long as they live ; for since they ought to re- 
present in themselves an image of Christ, both by crucifying 
the flesh and by a spiritual life, it is necessary that the 
former should be done once for all, and that the latter should 
be carried on continually : not that the flesh, as we have 
already said, dies in us in a moment, but that we ought not 
to retrograde in the work of crucifying it. For if we roll 
again in our own filth, we deny Christ ; of whom we cannot 
be the participators except through newness of life, inas- 
much as he lives an incorruptible life. 

9. Death no more rules over him, &c. He seems to imply 
that death once ruled over Christ ; and indeed when he gave 
himself up to death for us, he in a manner surrendered and 
subjected himself to its power ; it was however in such a 
way that it was impossible that he should be kept bound by 
its pangs, so as to succumb to or to be swallowed up by them. 
He, therefore, by submitting to its dominion, as it were, for 
a moment, destroyed it for ever. Yet, to speak more simply, 
the dominion of death is to be referred to the state of death 
voluntarily undergone, which the resurrection terminated. 
The meaning is, that Christ, who now vivifies the faithful 
by his Spirit, or breathes his own life into them by his secret 
power from heaven, was freed from the dominion of death 
when he arose, that by virtue of the same dominion he might 
render free all his people. 

10. He died once to sin, &c. What he had said — that we, 
according to the example of Christ, are for ever freed from 
the yoke of death, he now applies to his present purpose, 
and that is this — that we are no more subject to the tyranny 
of sin, and this he proves from the designed object of Christ's 
death ; for be died that he might destroy sin. 

But we must observe what is suitable to Christ in this 
form of expression ; for he is not said to die to sin, so as to 
cease from it, as the words must be taken when applied to 
us, but that he underwent death on account of sin, that 
having made himself avrtkvrpov, a ransom, he might anni- 
hilate the power and dominion of sin. 1 And he says that he 
1 This difference may be gathered from the general tenor of the whole 


died once, not only because he has by having obtained eternal 
redemption by one offering, and by having made an expiation 
for sin by his blood, sanctified the faithful for ever ; but 
also in order that a mutual likeness may exist between us. 
For though spiritual death makes continual advances in us, 
we are yet said properly to die only once, that is, when 
Christ, reconciling us by his blood to the Father, regenerates 
us at the same time by the power of his Spirit. 

But that he lives, &c. Whether you add with or in God, 
it comes to the same meaning ; for he shows that Christ 
lives a life subject to no mortality in the immortal and 
incorruptible kingdom of God ; a type of which ought to 
appear in the regeneration of the godly. We must here 
remember the particle of likeness, so ; for he says not that 
we shall now live in heaven, as Christ lives there ; but he 
makes the new life, which after regeneration we live on 
earth, similar to his celestial life. When he says that we 
ought to die to sin, according to his example, we are not to 
suppose it to be the same kind of death ; for we die to sin, 
when sin dies in us, but it was otherwise with Christ ; by 
dying it was that he conquered sin. But he had just said 
before, that we believe that we shall have life in common 
with him, he fully shows by the word believing that he 
speaks of the grace of Christ : for if he only reminded us of 
a duty, his mode of speaking would have been this, " Since 
we die with Christ, we ought also to live with him/' But 
the word believing denotes that he treats here of doctrine 
which is based on the promises ; as though he had said, that 
the faithful ought to feel assured that they are through the 
kindness of Christ dead as to the flesh, and that the same 
Christ will preserve them in newness of life to the end. 

passage : for his death and our death are said to have a likeness, and not 
to be same. And farther, in mentioning- our death in this connection, in 
the next verse, he changes his phraseology ; it is vixgohs iTvai and not 
avoSatui, which means those deprived of life— the lifeless. " The dead 
(nxgols) in trespasses and sins," are those who have no spiritual life ; and 
to be dead to sin is not to have life for sin, to be freed from its ruling 
power. «See verse 18. 

It is usual with the Apostle to adopt the same form of words in different 
senses, which can only be distinguished by the context or by other parts 
of Scripture, as it has been noticed in a note on ch. iv. 25. — Ed. 


But the future time of the verb live, refers not to the last 
resurrection, but simply denotes the continued course of a 
new life, as long as we peregrinate on the earth. 

11. So count ye also yourselves, &c. Now is added a de- 
finition of that analogy to which I have referred. For 
having stated that Christ once died to sin and lives for ever 
to God, he now, applying both to us, reminds us how we now 
die while living, that is, when we renounce sin. But he 
omits not the other part, that is, how we are to live after 
having by faith received the grace of Christ : for though the 
mortifying of the flesh is only begun in us, yet the life of 
sin is destroyed, so that afterwards spiritual newness, which 
is divine, continues perpetually. For except Christ were to 
slay sin in us at once to the end, his grace would by no 
means be sure and durable. 

The meaning, then, of the words may be thus expressed, 
" Take this view of your case, — that as Christ once died for 
the purpose of destroying sin, so you have once died, that 
in future you may cease from sin ; yea, you must daily pro- 
ceed with that work of mortifying, which is begun in you, 
till sin be wholly destroyed : as Christ is raised to an incor- 
ruptible life, so you are regenerated by the grace of God, 
that you may lead a life of holiness and righteousness, inas- 
much as the power of the Holy Spirit, by which ye have 
been renewed, is eternal, and shall ever continue the same/' 
But I prefer to retain the words of Paul, in Christ Jesus, 
rather than to translate with Erasmus, through Christ Jesus ; 
for thus the grafting, which makes us one with Christ, is 
better expressed. 

12. Let not sin therefore reign in 12. Ne ergo regnet peceatum in 
your mortal body, that ye should mortali vestro corpore, ut illi obedi- 
obey it in the lusts thereof : atis in cupiditatibus suis : 

13. Neither yield ye your members 13. Neque exhibeatis membra ves- 
as instruments of unrighteousness tra arma injustitise peccato ; sed ex- 
unto sin : but yield yourselves unto hibeatis vosmetipsos Deo, tanquam 
God, as those that are alive from the ex mortuis viventes, et membra ves- 
dead, and your members as instru- tra arma justitise Deo. 

ments of righteousness unto God. 

12. Let not sin then, &c. He now begins with exhortation, 
which naturally arises from the doctrine which he had de- 


livered respecting our fellowship with Christ. Though sin 
dwells in us, it is inconsistent that it should be so vigorous 
as to exercise its reigning power ; for the power of sanctifi- 
cation ought to be superior to it, so that our life may testify 
that we are really the members of Christ. 

I have already reminded you that the word body is not 
to be taken for flesh, and skin, and bones, but, so to speak, 
for the whole of what man is. 1 This may undoubtedly be 
inferred from the passage ; for the other clause, which he 
immediately subjoins respecting the members of the body, 
includes the soul also : and thus in a disparaging manner 
does Paul designate earthly man, for owing to the corruption 
of our nature we aspire to nothing worthy of our original. 
So also does God say in Gen. vi. 3 ; where he complains that 
man was become flesh like the brute animals, and thus 
allows him nothing but what is earthly. To the same pur- 
pose is the declaration of Christ, " What is born of the flesh 
is flesh." (John iii. 6.) But if any makes this objection — 
that the case with the soul is different ; to this the ready 
answer is — that in our present degenerate state our souls 
are fixed to the earth, and so enslaved to our bodies, that 
they have fallen from their own superiority. In a word, the 
nature of man is said to be corporeal, because he is destitute 
of celestial grace, and is only a sort of empty shadow or 
image. We may add, that the body, by way of contempt, is 
said by Paul to be mortal, and this to teach us, that the 
whole nature of man tends to death and ruin. Still further, 
he gives the name of sin to the original depravity which 
dwells in our hearts, and which leads us to sin, and from 
which indeed all evil deeds and abominations stream forth. 
In the middle, between sin and us, he places lusts, as the 

1 That is, as a corrupt being: literally it is "for the whole mass of 
man." The "body" here may be the same with that of "the old man" 
in ver. 6 ; and the word for " lusts," i*rtup'ta.t;, is often applied to desig- 
nate the desires of the mind as well as the lusts of the natural body. The 
word, Swru, "mortal," would in this case mean, doomed to die, having 
been crucified ; it is a body in the process of dying. Innate sin is here 
personified as a king, a ruler, and as having a body, he being " the old 
man ;" and this body is represented as belonging to Christians — " your," 
as the old man is — "our old man." — Ed. 


former has the office of a king, while lusts are its edicts and 

13. Nor present your members, &c. When once sin has 
obtained dominion in our soul, all our faculties are continu- 
ally applied to its service. He therefore describes here the 
reign of sin by what follows it, that he might more clearly 
show what must be done by us, if we would shake off its 
yoke. But he borrows a similitude from the military office, 
when he calls our members weapons or arms (arma) ; l as 
though he said, " As the soldier has ever his arms ready, 
that he may use them whenever he is ordered by his general, 
and as he never uses them but at his command ; so Chris- 
tians ought to regard all their faculties to be the weapons of 
the spiritual warfare : if then they employ any of their mem- 
bers in the indulgence of depravity, they are in the service 
of sin. But they have made the oath of soldiers to God and 
to Christ, and by this they are held bound : it hence behoves 
them to be far away from any intercourse with the camps of 
sin." — Those may also here see by what right they proudly 
lay claim to the Christian name, who have all their mem- 
bers, as though they were the prostitutes of Satan, prepared 
to commit every kind of abomination. 

On the other hand, he now bids us to present ourselves 
wholly to God, so that restraining our minds and hearts from 
all wanderings into which the lusts of the flesh may draw 
us, we may regard the will of God alone, being ready to re- 
ceive his commands, and prepared to execute his orders ; 
and that our members also may be devoted and consecrated 
to his will, so that all the faculties both of our souls and of 
our bodies may aspire after nothing but his glory. The rea- 
son for this is also added — that the Lord, having destroyed 
our former life, has not in vain created us for another, which 
ought to be accompanied with suitable actions. 

1 The idea of a king, a ruler, or a tyrant, is preserved throughout. In- 
nate sin is a ruler, carrying on a warfare, and therefore has weapons which 
he exploys. In the preceding verse are mentioned the gratifications with 
which he indulges his subjects — " lusts," here the weapons by which he 
defends his kingdom, and carries on an offensive warfare, committing acts 
of wickedness and wrong — " weapons of injustice, ulutius." " He who sins," 
says an old author, " does wrong either to himself or to his neighbour, and 
always to God." — Ed. 


14. For sin shall not havedomi- 14. Peccatum enim vobis non do- 
nion over you i 1 for ye are not under minabitur, non enim estis sub Lege, 
the law, but under grace. sed sub gratia. 

15. What then ? shall we sin, be- 15. Quid ergo ? peccabimus, quia 
cause we are not under the law, but non sumus sub Lege, sed sub gratia ? 
under grace ? God forbid. Absit : 

16. Know ye not, that to Avhom ye 16. Nescitis quod cui exhibuistis 
yield yourselves servants to obey, his vos servos in obedientiam, ejus servi 
servants ye are to whom ye obey ; estis cui obeditis, sive peccati in mor- 
whether of sin unto death, or of obe- tern, sive obediential in justitiam ? 
dience unto righteousness ? 

17- But God be thanked, that ye 17. Gratia autem Deo, quod ihis- 

were the servants of sin ; but ye have tis servi peccati, obedistis vero ex 

obeyed from the heart that form of animo typo doctrinaa in quem tra- 

doctrine which was delivered you. ducti estis : 

18. Being then made free from sin, 18. Manumissi vero peccato, servi 

ye became the servants of righteous- facti estis justitiae. 

14. For sin shall not rule over you, &c. It is not necessary 
to continue long in repeating and confuting expositions, 
which have little or no appearance of truth. There is one 
which lias more probability in its favour than the rest, and 
it is this — that by law we are to understand the letter of the 
law, which cannot renovate the soul, and by grace, the 
grace of the Spirit, by which we are freed from depraved 
lusts. But this I do not wholly approve of; for if we take 
this meaning, what is the object of the question which im- 
mediately follows, " Shall we sin because we are not under 
the law V Certainly the Apostle would never have put this 
question, had he not understood, that we are freed from the 
strictness of the law, so that God no more deals with us 
according to the high demands of justice. There is then no 
doubt but that he meant here to indicate some freedom from 
the very law of God. But laying aside controversy, I will 
briefly explain my view. 

It seems to me, that there is here especially a consolation 
offered, by which the faithful are to be strengthened, lest 
they should faint in their efforts after holiness, through a 

1 " Vobis non dominabitur ;" ou Ku^nivu — shall not be a lord over you, 
shall not have power or authority or control over you ; or, it may mean, 
shall not domineer over you, so as to retain you, as it were by force, under 
its power : and the reason given favours this idea ; for he says, " Ye are not 
under law, but under grace." Law is the strength of sin ; and by law it 
binds its subjects under its service. — Ed. 


consciousness of their own weakness. He had exhorted 
them to devote all their faculties to the service of righteous- 
ness ; but as they carry about them the relics of the flesh, 
they cannot do otherwise than walk somewhat lamely. 
Hence, lest being broken down by a consciousness of their 
infirmity they should despond, he seasonably comes to their 
aid, by interposing a consolation, derived from this circum- 
stance — that their works are not now tested by the strict 
rule of the law, but that God, remitting their impurity, does 
kindly and mercifully accept them. The yoke of the law 
cannot do otherwise than tear and bruise those who carry it. 
It hence follows, that the faithful must flee to Christ, and 
implore him to be the defender of their freedom : and as 
such he exhibits himself; for he underwent the bondage of 
the law, to which he was himself no debtor, for this end — 
that he might, as the Apostle says, redeem those who were 
under the law. 

Hence, not to be under the law means, not only that we 
are not under the letter which prescribes what involves us 
in guilt, as we are not able to perform it, but also that we 
are no longer subject to the law, as requiring perfect right- 
eousness, and pronouncing death on all who deviate from it 
in any part. In like manner, by the word grace, we are to 
understand both parts of redemption — the remission of sins, 
by which God imputes righteousness to us, — and the sanc- 
tification of the Spirit, by whom he forms us anew unto 
good works. The adversative particle, [aXka, but,] I take 
in the sense of alleging a reason, which is not unfrequently 
the case; as though it was said — " We who are under grace, 
are not therefore under the law/' 

The sense now is clear ; for the Apostle intended to com- 
fort us, lest we should be wearied in our minds, while striv- 
ing to do what is right, because we still find in ourselves 
many imperfections. For how much soever we may be 
harassed by the stings of sin, it cannot yet overcome us, for 
we are enabled to conquer it by the Spirit of God ; and 
then, being under grace, we are freed from the rigorous re- 
quirements of the law. We must further understand, that 
the Apostle assumes it as granted, that all who are without 


the grace of God, being bound under the yoke of the law, 
are under condemnation. And so we may on the other 
hand conclude, that as long as they are under the law, they 
are subject to the dominion of sin. 1 

15. What then ? As the wisdom of the flesh is ever cla- 
morous against the mysteries of God, it was necessary for 
the Apostle to subjoin what might anticipate an objection : 
for since the law is the rule of life, and has been given to 
guide men, we think that when it is removed all discipline 
immediately falls to the ground, that restraints are taken 
away, in a word, that there remains no distinction or differ- 
ence between good and evil. But we are much deceived if 
we think, that the righteousness which God approves of in 
his law is abolished, when the law is abrogated ; for the abro- 
gation is by no means to be applied to the precepts which 
teach the right way of living, as Christ confirms and sanc- 
tions these and does not abrogate them ; but the right view 
is, that nothing is taken away but the curse, to which all 
men without grace are subject. But though Paul does not 
distinctly express this, yet he indirectly intimates it. 

] 6. By no means : know ye not ? This is not a bare denial 
as some think, as though he preferred to express his abhor- 
rence of such a question rather than to disprove it : for a 
confutation immediately follows, derived from a contrary 
supposition, and to this purpose, " Between the yoke of 
Christ and that of sin there is so much contrariety, that no 
one can bear them both ; if we sin, we give ourselves up to 
the service of sin ; but the faithful, on the contrary, have 
been redeemed from the tyranny of sin, that they may serve 
Christ : it is therefore impossible for them to remain bound 
to sin." But it will be better to examine more closely the 
course of reasoning, as pursued by Paul. 

To whom we obey, &c. This relative may be taken in a 
causative sense, as it often is ; as when one says, — there is 
no kind of crime which a parricide will not do, who has not 

1 The word "law" here, is taken by Scott and others, indefinitely, as 
meaning law as the ground of the covenant of works, written or un- 
written; and the literal rendering is, "under law" — i>*h vifiev; and it is 
the same in the next verse, " under law." — Ed. 


hesitated to commit the greatest crime of all, and so bar- 
barous as to be almost abhorred even by wild beasts. And 
Paul adduces his reason partly from the effects, and partly 
from the nature of correlatives. For first, if they obey, he 
concludes that they are servants, for obedience proves that 
he, who thus brings one into subjection to himself, has the 
power of commanding. This reason as to service is from 
the effect, and from this the other arises. " If you be ser- 
vants, then of course sin has the dominion." 

Or of obedience, &c. The language is not strictly correct ; 
for if he wished to have the clauses correspondent, he would 
have said, " or of righteousness unto life." 1 But as the 
change in the words does not prevent the understanding of 
the subject, he preferred to express what righteousness is by 
the word obedience ; in which however there is a metonymy, 
for it is to be taken for the very commandments of God ; 
and by mentioning this without addition, he intimated that 
it is God alone, to whose authority consciences ought to be 
subject. Obedience then, though the name of God is sup- 
pressed, is yet to be referred to him, for it cannot be a 
divided obedience. 

17. But thanks be to God, &c. This is an application of 
the similitude of the present subject. Though they were 
only to be reminded that they were not now the servants of 

1 Beza's remark on this is, — that obedience is not the cause of life, as 
sin is of death, but is the way to life : and hence the want of correspond- 
ence in the two clauses. But others, such as Venema, Turrettin, and 
Stuart, consider that the clauses really correspond. They take th Suva™» 
— " unto death," as signifying, unto condemnation ; and lis hxaio<fuwv, 
they render " unto justification ;" and i/waxon, " obedience," is in their 
view the obedience of faith. This construction might be admitted, were 
it not for the last clause of ver. 18, where we have, " Ye became the 
servants of righteousness," the same word, ItKaioalin ; except we consider 
that also, as Venema does, as signifying the righteousness of faith, by a 
sort of personification : and if so, we must attach the same meaning to 
" righteousness," lutuio<r6v/i, in ver. 19, which issues in, or leads to holiness ; 
and also to " righteousness," Imatoirvvrt, in ver. 20. As the Apostle per- 
sonifies sin, he may also be supposed to personify righteousness, that is, 
the righteousness of faith. In this case, we might as well retain the word 
" righteousness" in this verse, and not justification, which it never strictly 
means ; for the correspondence in the terms would be still essentially pre- 
served, as with the righteousness of faith eternal life is inseparably con- 
nected. — Ed. 


sin, lie yet adds a thanksgiving ; first, that he might teach 
them, that this was not through their own merit, but 
through the special mercy of God ; and secondly, that by 
this thanksgiving, they might learn how great was the kind- 
ness of God, and that they might thereby be more stimu- 
lated to hate sin. And he gives thanks, not as to that time 
during which they were the servants of sin, but for the 
liberation which followed, when they ceased to be what they 
were before. But this implied comparison between their 
former and present state is very emphatical ; for the Apos- 
tle touches the calumniators of the grace of Christ, when he 
shows, that without grace the whole race of man is held 
captive under the dominion of sin ; but that the kingdom 
of sin conies to an end, as soon as grace puts forth its 
power. 1 

We ma}'' hence learn, that we are not freed from the bond- 
age of the law that we may sin ; for the law does not lose 
its dominion, until the grace of God restores us to him, in 
order to renew us in righteousness : and it is hence 
impossible that we should be subject to sin, when the 
grace of God reigns in us : for we have before stated, 
that under this term grace, is included the spirit of re- 

You have obeyed from the heart, &c. Paul compares here 
the hidden power of the Spirit with the external letter of 
the law, as though he had said, " Christ inwardly forms 
our souls in a better way, than when the law constrains 
them by threatening and terrifying us." Thus is dissipated, 
the following calumny, " If Christ frees us from subjection 
to the law, he brings liberty to sin/' He does not indeed 
allow his people unbridled freedom, that they might frisk 
about without any restraint, like horses let loose in the 
fields ; but he brings them to a regular course of life. — 
Though Erasmus, following the old version, has chosen to 

1 Our version of this verse conveys the idea, that the Apostle gave thanks 
that they had been the servants of sin ; but on is often rendered for, as 
in Matt. v. 3, 4 ; Luke x. 13 ; and in Matt. vi. 5, followed by & as 
here, in ver. 6. The rendering may be this, — 

But thanks be to God : for ye have been the servants of sin, but have 

obeyed the form of doctrine, in which ye have been taught. — Ed. 


translate it the " form" (formam) of doctrine, I have felt 
constrained to retain type, the word which Paul uses : some 
may perhaps prefer the word pattern. 1 It seems indeed to 
me to denote the formed image or impress of that righteous- 
ness which Christ engraves on our hearts : and this corre- 
sponds with the prescribed rule of the law, according to 
which all our actions ought to be framed, so that they 
deviate not either to the right or to the left hand. 

18. And having been made free from sin, &c. The mean- 
ing is, " It is unreasonable that any one, after having been 
made free, should continue in a state of bondage ; for he 
ought to maintain the freedom which he has received : it is 
not then befitting, that you should be brought again under 
the dominion of sin, from which you have been set at liberty 
by Christ/' It is an argument derived from the efficient 
cause ; another also follows, taken from the final cause, 
" Ye have been liberated from the bondage of sin, that ye 
might pass into the kingdom of righteousness ; it is hence 
right that you should wholly turn away from sin, and turn 
your minds wholly to righteousness, into the service of which 
you have been transferred/' 

1 The version of Calvin is, " Obedistis vero et animo typo doctrinse in 
quern tradueti estis." 

The word rvvros, is rendered in John xx. 25, print, that is, of the nails, 
— in Acts vii. 43, in the plural, figures, that is, images, — in Acts vii. 44, 
fashion, that is, pattern or model, — in Heh. viii. 5, pattern, — in Acts 
xxiii. 25, manner, that is, form, — in Rom. v. 14, figure, that is, represen- 
tative, — in Tit. ii. 7, pattern; and in all other instances in which it 
occurs, except in this place, it is rendered example, and in the plural, 
examples, as afforded by the conduct of others, or by events ; see 1 Cor. 
x. 6, 11 ; Phil. hi. 17 ; 1 Thess. i. 7 ; 2 Thess. hi. 9 :'l Tim. iv. 12 ; 1 Pet. 
v. 3. The idea of mould, which some give to it, is without an example 
in the New Testament. 

Our version is that of Castellio, in the meaning of which most critics 
agree. Grotius gives this paraphrase, " Obedistis ad eum modnm quern 
doctrina evangelii prsescribit — Ye became obedient to that rule which the 
doctrine of the gospel prescribes." Wolfcus quotes from lamblichus, in his 
life of Pythagoras, passages in which two? is used for form, model, or 
manner, — " r*is vradivtneos « rviro; — the form of instruction ;" and " rvnos §;- 
latrxuXia; — the form or manner of teaching." 

The grammatical difficulty is best removed by Stuart, who considers 
TuVov to be for *w», the case being changed by the preceding pronoun, 
no uncommon thing in Greek : the literal rendering would then be, — 
" Ye have obeyed the form of doctrine, respecting which (or, in which, 
see Mark v. 34) ye have been instructed." — Ed. 


It must be observed, that no one can be a servant to 
righteousness except he is first liberated by the power and 
kindness of God from the tyranny of sin. So Christ himself 
testifies, " If the Son shall free you, you shall be free in- 
deed." (John viii. 36.) What are then our preparations by 
the power of free will, since the commencement of what is 
good proceeds from this manumission, which the grace of 
God alone effects '{ 

19. I speak after the manner of men, 19. Humanum dico propter in- 

because of the infirmity of your flesh : firmitatem carnis vestraa, quem ad- 

for as ye have yielded your members modum exhibuistis membra vestra 

servants to uncleanness, and to iniquity serva immunditise et iniquitati in 

unto iniquity ; even so now yield your iniquitatem, sic et nunc exhibite 

members servants to righteousness un- membra vestra serva justitise in 

to holiness. sanctificationem. 

19. I speak what is human, &c. He says that he speaks 
after the manner of men, not as to the substance but as to 
the manner. So Christ says, in John iii. 12, that he an- 
nounced earthly things, while yet he spoke of heavenly 
mysteries, though not so magnificently as the dignity of the 
things required, because he accommodated himself to the 
capacities of a people ignorant and simple. And thus the 
Apostle says, by way of preface, that he might more fully 
show how gross and wicked is the calumny, when it is 
imagined, that the freedom obtained by Christ gives liberty 
to sin. He reminds the faithful at the same time, that 
nothing is more unreasonable, nay, base and disgraceful, 
than that the spiritual grace of Christ should have less in- 
fluence over them than earthly freedom ; as though he had 
said, " I might, by comparing sin and righteousness, show 
how much more ardently ye ought to be led to render obe- 
dience to the latter, than to serve the former ; but from 
regard to your infirmity I omit this comparison : neverthe- 
less, though I treat you with great indulgence, I may yet 
surely make this just demand — that you should not at least 
obey righteousness more coldly or negligently than you served 
sin." It is a sort of reticence or silence, a withholding of 
something when we wish more to be understood than what 
we express. He does yet exhort them to render obedi- 


ence to righteousness with so much more diligence, as that 
which they served is more worthy than sin, though he seems 
not to require this in so many words. 1 

As ye have presented, &c. ; that is, " As ye were formerly 
ready with all your faculties to serve sin, it is hence suffi- 
ciently evident how wretchedly enslaved and bound did your 
depravity hold you to itself: now then ye ought to be equally 
prompt and ready to execute the commands of God ; let not 
your activity in doing good be now less than it was formerly 
in doing evil." He does not indeed observe the same order 
in the antithesis, by adapting different parts to each other, 
as he does in ] Thess. iv. 7, where he sets uncleanness in 
opposition to holiness ; but the meaning is still evident. 

He mentions first two kinds — uncleanness and iniquity ; 
the former of which is opposed to chastity and holiness, the 
other refers to injuries hurtful to our neighbour. But he 
repeats iniquity twice, and in a different sense : by the first 
he means plunders, frauds, perjuries, and every kind of 
wrong ; by the second, the universal corruption of life, as 
though he had said, " Ye have prostituted your members so 
as to perpetrate all wicked works, and thus the kingdom of 
iniquity became strong in you/' 2 By righteousness I under- 
stand the law or the rule of a holy life, the design of which 

1 The phrase is taken differently : ' Av^tnvov x'tya — " I speak what is 
human," that is, what is proportionable to man's strength, says Chrysostoni 
— what is done and known in common life, as in Gal. iii. 15, or, what is 
moderate, says Hammond — what is level to man's understanding, says 
Vatablus. The first proposed by Hammond is the meaning most suitable 
here; for the Apostle had previously used reasons and arguments, and 
sacred similitudes ; but he comes now to what is known in common life 
among men, the connection between masters and servants, and he did this 
in condescension to their weakness, which he calls the weakness of the flesh, 
that is, the weakness of which flesh, the depravity of nature, was the cause ; 
it was weakness arising from the flesh. — Ed. 

2 The different clauses of this verse have been a knotty point to all 
commentators. Probably the Apostle did not intend to keep up a regular 
course of antithesis, the subject not admitting of this; because the progress 
of evil and the progress of its remedy may be different, and it seems to be 
so in the present case. Sin is innate and inward, and its character, as 
here represented, is vileness and iniquity, and it breaks out into acts of 
iniquity : he does not repeat the other character, vileness ; but when he 
comes to the contrast he mentions holiness, and does not add what is anti- 
thetic to iniquity. This is a striking instance of the elliptical style of the 
Apostle. It is not neglect or carelessness, but no doubt an intentional 


is sanctification, as the case is when the faithful devote 
themselves to serve God in purity. 

20. For when ye were the ser- 20. Quando enim servi fuistis 
vants of sin, ye were free from peccati, liberi fuistis justitise. 

21. What fruit had ye then in 21. Quem ergo fructum habuistis 
those things whereof ye are now tunc in iis, de quibus nunc erubes- 
ashamed? for the end of those things citis? siquidem finis eorum mors. 

is death. 

22. But now, being made free 22. Nunc vero manumissi a pec- 
front sin, and become servants to cato, Deo autem in servitutem ad- 
God, ye have your fruit unto holi- dicti, habetis fructum vestrum in 
ness, and the end everlasting life. sanctificationem, finem vero vitam 


23. For the wages of sin is death ; 23. Stipendia enim peccati, mors ; 
but the gift of God is eternal life donum vero Dei, vita feterna, in 
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Christo Iesu Domino nostro. 

20. For when ye were, &c. He still repeats the difference, 
which he had before mentioned, between the yoke of right- 
eousness and that of sin ; for these two things, sin and right- 
eousness, are so contrary, that he who devotes himself to the 
one, necessarily departs from the other. And he thus re- 
presents both, that by viewing them apart we may see more 
clearly what is to be expected from each ; for to set things 
thus apart enables us to understand better their distinctive 
character. He then sets sin on one side, and righteousness 

omission ; it being the character of his mode of writing, which he had in 
common with the ancient Prophets. 

Then comes the word " righteousness," which I am disposed to think 
is that which all along has been spoken of, the righteousness of faith ; this 
is not innate, not inward, but which comes from without, and is appre- 
hended by faith, by which sins are forgiven, and God's favour obtained ; 
and they who become the servants of this are to cultivate holiness both 
inward and outward ; they ought to present all their members, that is, all 
their faculties, to the service of this master, so that they may become holy 
in all manner of conversation. 

But if this idea of righteousness be disapproved of, we may still account 
for the apparent irregularity in the construction of the passage. It 
is an instance of an inverted order, many examples of which are found 
even in this Epistle. He begins with " uncleanness," he ends with " holi- 
ness," and then the intervening words which are in contrast correspond, 
" iniquity " and " righteousness." Here is also an inversion in the mean- 
ing ; " uncleanness" is the principle, and ' : holiness" is the action; while 
" iniquity " is the action, and " righteousness " is the principle. If this 
view is right, we have here a singular instance of the inverted parallelism, 
both as to words and meaning. — Ed. 


on the other ; and having stated this distinction, he after- 
wards shows what results from each of them. 

Let us then remember that the Apostle still reasons on 
the principle of contraries, and in this manner, " While ye 
were the servants of sin, ye were freed from righteousness ; 
but now a change having taken place, it behoves you to serve 
righteousness ; for you have been liberated from the yoke of 
sin. He calls those free from righteousness who are held by 
no bridle to obey righteousness. This is the liberty of the 
flesh, which so frees us from obedience to God, that it makes 
us slaves to the devil. Wretched then and accursed is this 
liberty, which with unbridled or rather mad frenzy, leads us 
exultingly to our destruction. 

21. What fruit, then, &c. He could not more strikingly 
express what he intended than by appealing to their con- 
science, and by confessing shame as it were in their person. 
Indeed the godly, as soon as they begin to be illuminated by 
the Spirit of Christ and the preaching of the gospel, do freely 
acknowledge their past life, which they have lived without 
Christ, to have been worthy of condemnation ; and so far 
are they from endeavouring to excuse it, that, on the con- 
trary, they feel ashamed of themselves. Yea, further, they 
call to mind the remembrance of their own disgrace, that 
being thus ashamed, they may more truly and more readily 
be humbled before God. 

Nor is what he says insignificant, Of which ye are now 
ashamed ; for he intimates that we are possessed with ex- 
treme blind love for ourselves, when we are involved in the 
darkness of our sins, and think not that there is so much 
filth in us. The light of the Lord alone can open our eyes 
to behold the filthiness which lies hid in our flesh. He only 
then is imbued with the principles of Christian philosophy, 
who has well learnt to be really displeased with himself, 
and to be confounded with shame for his own wretch- 
edness. He shows at last still more plainly from what 
was to follow, how much they ought to have been ashamed, 
that is, when they came to understand that they had 
been standing on the very precipice of death, and had 
been nigh destruction ; yea, that they would have already 



entered the gates of death, had they not been reclaimed by 
God's mercy. 

22. Ye have your fruit unto holiness, &c. As he had be- 
fore mentioned a twofold end of sin, so he does now as to 
righteousness. Sin in this life brings the torments of an 
accusing conscience, and in the next eternal death. We now 
gather the fruit of righteousness, even holiness ; Ave hope in 
future to gain eternal life. These things, unless we are 
beyond measure stupid, ought to genei'ate in our minds a 
hatred and horror of sin, and also a love and desire for 
righteousness. Some render reXos, " tribute" or reward, and 
not " end," but not, as I think, according to the meaning of 
the Apostle ; for though it is true that we bear the punish- 
ment of death on account of sin, yet this word, is not suitable 
to the other clause, to which it is applied by Paul, inasmuch 
as life cannot be said to be the tribute or reward of right- 

23. For the wages of sin, &c. There are those who think 
that Paul, by comparing death to allowances of meat, {ob- 
soniis,) points out in a disparaging manner the kind of 
wretched reward that is allotted to sinners, as this word is 
taken by the Greeks sometimes for portions allowed to sol- 
diers. But he seems rather indirectly to condemn the blind 
appetites of those who are ruinously allured by the entice- 
ments of sin, as the fish are by the hook. It will however 
be more simple to render the word " Avages," for surely death 
is a sufficiently ample reward to the wicked. This verse is 
a conclusion to the former, and as it were an epilogue to it. 
He does not, however, in vain repeat the same thing again ; 
but by doubling the terror, he intended to render sin an 
object of still greater hatred. 

But the gift of God. They are mistaken who thus render 
the sentence, " Eternal life is the gift of God," as though 
eternal life were the subject, and the gift of God the predi- 
cate ; for this docs not preserve the contrast. But as he has 
already taught us, that sin produces nothing but death ; so 
now he subjoins, that this gift of God, even our justification 
and sanctification, brings to us the happiness of eternal life. 
Or, if you prefer, it may be thus stated, — " As the cause of 


death is sin, so righteousness, which we obtain through 
Christ, restores to us eternal life." 

It may however be hence inferred with certainty, that our 
salvation is altogether through the grace and mere benefi- 
cence of God. He might indeed have used other words — 
that the wages of righteousness is eternal life ; and then the 
two clauses would correspond : but he knew that it is 
through God's gift we obtain it, and not through our own 
merits ; and that it is not one or a single gift ; for being 
clothed with the righteousness of the Son, we are reconciled 
to God, and we are by the power of the Spirit renewed unto 
holiness. And he adds, in Christ Jesus, and for this reason, 
that he might call us away from every conceit respecting 
our own worthiness. 


1. Know ye not, brethren, (for I 1. Num ignoratis fratres (scienti- 
speak to them that know the law,) bus enim Legem loquor) quod Lex 
how that the law hath dominion over dominatur homini quamdiu vivit ? 

a man as long as he ^veth? 

2. For the woman which hath an 2. Nam viro subjecta mulier, vi- 
husband is bound by the law to her venti viro alligata est per Legem ; 
husband so long as he liveth ; but if quod si mortuus fuerit vir, soluta est 
the husband be dead, she is loosed a Lege viri. 

from the law of her husband. 

3. So then if, while her husband 3. Proinde vivente marito, si al- 
liveth, she be married to another teri viro conjuncta fuerit, adultera 
man, she shall be called an adul- vocabitur : quod si mortuus fuerit 
teress : but if her husband be dead, vir, liberata est a Lege ne amplius 
she is free from that law ; so that sit adultera si alteri nupserit. 

she is no adulteress, though she be 
married to another man. 

4. Wherefore, my brethren, ye 4. Itaque fratres mei, vos quoque 
also are become dead to the law by mortui estis Legi per corpus Christi, 
the body of Christ ; that ye should ut posthac alterius sitis, ejus qui ex 
be married to another, even to him mortuis suscitatus est, ut fructiti- 
who is raised from the dead, that we cemus Deo. 1 

should bring forth fruit unto God. 

Though he had, in a brief manner, sufficiently explained 
the question respecting the abrogation of the law ; yet as it 

1 That is, the law by which she was bound to her husband, or, the law 
by which he became her husband. It is an instance of the latitude in 
which the genitive case is used. — Ed. 


was a difficult one, and might have given rise to many other 
questions, he now shows more at large how the law, with re- 
gard to us, is become abrogated; and then he sets forth 
what good is thereby done to us : for while it holds us sepa- 
rated from Christ and bound to itself, it can do nothing but 
condemn us. And lest any one should on this account 
blame the law itself, he takes up and confutes the objections 
of the flesh, and handles, in a striking manner, the great 
question respecting the use of the law. 1 

1. Know ye not, &c. Let the general proposition be, that 
the law was given to men for no other end but to regulate 
the present life, and that it belongs not to those who are 
dead : to this he afterwards subjoins this truth — that we are 
dead to it through the body of Christ. Some understand, 
that the dominion of the law continues so long to bind us 
as it remains in force. But as this view is rather obscure, 
and does not harmonize so well with the proposition which 
immediately follows, I prefer to follow those who regard 
what is said as referring to the life of man, and not to the 
law. The question has indeed a peculiar force, as it affirms 
the certainty of what is spoken ; for it shows that it was not 
a thing new or unknown to any of them, but acknowledged 
equally by them all. 

{For to those ivho know the law I speak.) This parenthesis 
is to be taken in the same sense with the question, as though 
he had said — that he knew that they were not so unskilful 
in the law as to entertain any doubt on the subject. And 
though both sentences might be understood of all laws, it is 
yet better to take them as referring to the law of God, which 
is the subject that is discussed. There are some who think 
that he ascribes knowledge of the law to the Romans, be- 

1 The connection of the beginning of this chapter with the 14th verse of 
the former chapter deserves to be noticed . He says there, that sin shall 
not rule over us, because we are not under law, but under grace. Then 
he asks, in verse 15, " Shall we sin, because we are not under law, but 
under grace ?" This last subject, according to his usual mode, he takes up 
first, and discusses it till the end of the chapter : and then in this chapter 
he reassumes the first subject — freedom from the law. This is a striking 
instance of the Apostle's manner of writing, quite different from what is 
usual with us in the present day. He mentions two things ; he proceeds 
with the last, and then goes back to the first. — Ed. 


cause the largest part of the world was under their power 
and government ; but this is puerile : for he addressed in 
part the Jews or other strangers, and in part common and 
obscure individuals ; nay, he mainly regarded the Jews, with 
whom he had to do respecting the abrogation of the law : 
and lest they should think that he was dealing captiously 
with them, he declares that he took up a common principle, 
known to them all, of which they could by no means be 
ignorant, who had from their childhood been brought up in 
the teaching of the law. 

2. For a woman subject to a man, &c. He brings a simili- 
tude, by which he proves, that we are so loosed from the 
law, that it does not any longer, properly and by its own 
right, retain over us any authority : and though he could 
have proved this by other reasons, yet as the example of 
marriage was very suitable to illustrate the subject, he in- 
troduced this comparison instead of evidence to prove his 
point. But that no one may be puzzled, because the differ- 
ent parts of the comparison do not altogether correspond, we 
are to be reminded, that the Apostle designedly intended, 
by a little change, to avoid the invidiousness of a stronger 
expression. He might have said, in order to make the com- 
parison complete, " A woman after the death of her husband 
is loosed from the bond of marriage : the law, which is in 
the place of a husband to us, is to us dead ; then we are 
freed from its power." But that he might not offend the 
Jews by the asperity of his expressions, had he said that the 
law was dead, he adopted a digression, and said, that we are 
dead, to the law. 1 To some indeed he appears to reason from 

1 This is a plausible reason, derived from Theodoret and Chrysostom ; 
but hardly necessary. Commentators have felt much embarrassed in ap- 
plying the illustration given here. The woman is freed by the death of 
the husband ; but the believer is represented as freed by dying himself. 
This does not correspond : and if we attend to what the Apostle says, we 
shall see that he did not contemplate such a correspondence. Let us 
notice how he introduces the illustration ; " the law," he says in the first 
verse, " rules, or exercises authority, over a man while he lives ;" and then 
let us observe the application in verse 4, where he speaks of our dying to 
the law. The main design of the illustration then was, to show that there 
is no freedom from a law but by death ; so that there is no necessity of a 
correspondence in the other parts. As in the case of man and wife, death 
destroys the bond of marriage ; so in the case of man and the law, that is, 


tlie less to the greater : however, as I fear that this is too 
strained, I approve more of the first meaning, which is sim- 
pler. The whole argument then is formed in this manner, 
" The woman is bound to her living husband by the law, so 
that she cannot be the wife of another ; but after the death 
of her husband she is loosed from the bond of his law, so 
that she is free to marry whom she pleases." 
Then follows the application*, — 

The law was, as it were our husband, under whose yoke 
we were kept until it became dead to us : 

After the death of the law Christ received us, that is, he 
joined us, when loosed from the law, to himself: 

Then being united to Christ risen from the dead, we 
ought to cleave to him alone : 

And as the life of Christ after the resurrection is eternal, 
so hereafter there shall be no divorce. 

But further, the word law is not mentioned here in every 
part in the same sense : for in one place it means the bond 
of marriage ; in another, the authority of a husband over his 
wife ; and in another, the law of Moses : but we must re- 
member, that Paul refers here only to that office of the law 
which was peculiar to the dispensation of Moses ; for as far 
as God has in the ten commandments taught what is just 
and right, and given directions for guiding our life, no abro- 
gation of the law is to be dreamt of; for the will of God must 
stand the same forever. We ought carefully to remember 
that this is not a release from the righteousness which is 
taught in the law, but from its rigid requirements, and from 
the curse which thence follows. The law, then, as a rule of 
life, is not abrogated ; but what belongs to it as opposed to 
the liberty obtained through Christ, that is, as it requires 
absolute perfection : for as we render not this perfection, it 

the law as the condition of life, there must be a death ; else there is no 
freedom. But there is one thing more in the illustration, which the Apos- 
tle adopts, the liberty to marry another, when death has given a release : 
The bond of connection being broken, a union with another is legitimate. 
►So far only is the example adduced to be applied — death puts an end to 
the right and authority of law ; and then the party released may justly 
form another connection. It is the attempt to make all parts of the com- 
parison to correspond that has occasioned all the difficulty. — Ed. 


binds us under the sentence of eternal death. But as it was 
not his purpose to decide here the character of the bond of 
marriage, he was not anxious to mention the causes which 
release a woman from her husband. It is therefore unrea- 
sonable that anything decisive on this point should be sought 

4. Through the body of Christ. Christ, by the glorious 
victory of the cross, first triumphed over sin ; and that he 
might do this, it was necessary that the handwriting, by 
which we were held bound, should be cancelled. This hand- 
writing was the law, which, while it continued in force, 
rendered us bound to serve 1 sin ; and hence it is called the 
power of sin. It was then by cancelling this handwriting 
that we were delivered through the body of Christ — through 
his body as fixed to the cross. 2 But the Apostle goes farther, 
and says, that the bond of the law was destroyed ; not that 
we may live according to our own will, like a widow, who 
lives as she pleases while single ; but that we may be now 
bound to another husband ; nay, that we may pass from 
hand to hand, as they say, that is, from the law to Christ. 
He at the same time softens the asperity of the expression, 
by saying that Christ, in order to join us to his own body, 
made us free from the yoke of the law. For though Christ 
subjected himself for a time of his own accord to the law, it 
is not yet right to say that the law ruled over him. . More- 
over, he conveys to his own members the liberty which he 
himself possesses. It is then no wonder that he exempts 
those from the yoke of the law, whom he unites by a sacred 
bond to himself, that they may be one body in him. 

Even his who has been raised, &c. We have already said, 
that Christ is substituted for the law, lest any freedom should 
be pretended without him, or lest any, being not yet dead 
to the law, should dare to divorce himself from it. But he 
adopts here a periphrastic sentence to denote the eternity 
of that life which Christ attained by his resurrection, that 

1 " Obseratos " — debtors bound to serve their creditors until payment is 
made. — Ed. 

2 That his crucified body is intended, is clear from what follows ; for he 
is spoken of as having " been raised from the dead." — Ed. 


Christians might know that this connection is to be per- 
petual. But of the spiritual marriage between Christ and 
his Church he speaks more fully in Eph. vi. 

That we may bring forth fruit to God. He ever annexes 
the final cause, lest any should indulge the liberty of their 
flesh and their own lusts, under the pretence that Christ has 
delivered them from the bondage of the law ; for he has 
offered us, together with himself, as a sacrifice to the Father, 
and he regenerates us for this end — that by newness of life 
we may bring forth fruit unto God : and we know that the 
fruits which our heavenly Father requires from us are those 
of holiness and righteousness. It is indeed no abatement to 
our liberty that we serve God ; nay, if we desire to enjoy so 
great a benefit as there is in Christ, it will not henceforth 
be right in us to entertain any other thought but that of 
promoting the glory of God ; for which purpose Christ has 
connected us with himself. We shall otherwise remain the 
bond-slaves, not only of the law, but also of sin and of death. 

5. For when we were in the flesh, 5. Quum enim esseraus in carne, 
the motions of sins, which were hy affectus peccatorum qui sunt per 
the law, did work in our members Legem, in membris nostris opera- 
to bring forth fruit unto death. bantur ad fructificandum morti : 

6. But now we are delivered from 6. Nunc vero soluti sumus a Lege, 
the law, that being dead wherein we mortui ei in qua detinebamur ; ut 
were held ; that we should serve in serviamus in novitate spiritus, et non 
newness of spirit, and not in the old- in vetustate literae. 

ness of the letter. 

5. For when we were, &c. He shows still more clearly by 
stating the contrary effect, how unreasonably the zealots of 
the law acted, who would still detain the faithful under its 
dominion ; for as long as the literal teaching of the law, un- 
connected with the Spirit of Christ, rules and bears sway, 
the wantonness of the flesh is not restrained, but, on the 
contrary, breaks out and prevails. It hence follows, that the 
kingdom of righteousness is not established, except when 
Christ emancipates us from the law. Paul at the same time 
reminds us of the works which it becomes us to do, when set 
free from the law. As long, then, as man is kept under the 
yoke of the law, he can, as he is sinning continually, procure 
nothing for himself but death. Since bondage to the law 


produces sin only, then freedom, its opposite, must tend to 
righteousness ; if the former leads to death, then the latter 
leads to life. But let us consider the very words of Paul. 

In describing our condition during the time we were sub- 
ject to the dominion of the law, he says, that we were in the 
flesh. "We hence understand, that all those who are under 
the law attain nothing else but this — that their ears are 
struck by its external sound without any fruit or effect, 
while they are inwardly destitute of the Spirit of God. They 
must therefore necessarily remain altogether sinful and per- 
verse, until a better remedy succeeds to heal their diseases. 
Observe also this usual phrase of Scrij)ture, to be in the flesh ; 
it means to be endued only with the gifts of nature, without 
that peculiar grace with which God favours his chosen people. 
But if this state of life is altogether sinful, it is evident that 
no part of our soul is naturally sound, and that the power of 
free will is no other than the power of casting evil emotions 
as darts into all the faculties of the soul. 1 

The emotions of sins, 2 which are through the law, &c. ; that 
is, the law excited in us evil emotions, which exerted their 

1 To be " in the flesh" has two meanings, — to be imrenewed, and in our 
natural corrupt state, as Calvin says, see chap. viii. 8, — and to be subject 
to external rites and ceremonies, as the Jews were, see Gal. iii. 3 ; Phil, 
iii. 4. Its meaning here, according to Beza and Pareus, is the first ; ac- 
cording to Grotius and Hammond, the second ; and according to Turrettin 
and Hodge, both are included, as the context, in their view, evidently 
shows. — Ed. 

2 " Affectus peccatorum — affections of sins ;" r« a-a^ara, &c, — " cupi- 
ditates — desires," or lusts, Grotius. The word is commonly taken pas- 
sively, as signifying afflictions, sufferings ; ch. viii. 18 ; 2 Cor. i. 5 ; Col. i. 
24 ; but here, and in Gal. v. 24, it evidently means excitements, commo- 
tions, emotions, lusts or lustings. " Passion " in our language admits of 
two similar meanings, — suffering, and an excited feeling, or an inward 

These " emotions" are said to be through the law, — " made known by 
the law," says Chy^ysostom ; but " occasioned by the law," is more correct, 
as it appears from ver. 8, or, " made to abound by the law," as in ch. v. 
20. The law, instead of making men holy, made them, through the per- 
versity of human nature, to sin the more. " Emotions of sins " is an 
Hebraism for " sinful emotions." — " The members " are those of the " old 
man," and not those of the material body, though it is commonly thought 
that they are the latter, and mentioned, because they are employed as the 
instruments of sin : but there are many sins, and those of the worst kind, 
which are confined to the mind and heart. It is therefore more consistent 
to regard them as the members of " the body of sin," ch. vi. 6. — Ed. 


influence through all our faculties ; for there is no part 
which is not subject to these depraved passions. What the 
law does, in the absence of the inward teacher, the Spirit, is 
increasingly to inflame our hearts, so that they boil up with 
lusts. But observe here, that the law is connected with the 
vicious nature of man, the perversity of which, and its lusts, 
break forth with greater fury, the more they are checked by 
the restraints of righteousness. He further adds, that as 
long as the emotions of the flesh were under the dominion 
of the law they brought forth fruit to death ; and he adds 
this to show that the law by itself is destructive. It hence 
follows, that they are infatuated, who so much desire this 
bondage which issues in death. 

6. But now we have been loosed from the law, &c. He pur- 
sues the argument derived from the opposite effect of things, 
— "If the restraint of the law availed so little to bridle the 
flesh, that it became rather the exciter of sin ; then, that we 
may cease from sin, we must necessarily be freed from the 
law." Again, " If we are freed from the bondage of the law 
for this end, that we may serve God ; then, perversely do 
they act who hence take the liberty to indulge in sin ; and 
falsely do they sj^eak who teach, that by this means loose 
reins are given to lusts." Observe, then, that we are then 
freed from the law, when God emancipates us from its rigid 
exactions and curse, and endues us with his Spirit, through 
whom we walk in his ways. 1 

Having died to that, &c. This part contains a reason, or 
rather, indicates the manner in which we are made free ; for 
the law is so far abrogated with regard to us, that we are 
not pressed down by its intolerable burden, and that its in- 
exorable rigour does not overwhelm us with a curse. 2 — In 

1 That the moral, and not the ceremonial law, is meant here, is incon- 
testably evident from what the Apostle adds in the following verses. He 
quotes the moral law in the next verse: he calls this law, in ver. 10, the 
commandment, <rvv hroXw, which was unto life, see Matt. xix. 16" ; and he 
says, that " by it " sin " slew " him, which could not have been said of the 
ceremonial law. — Ed. 

2 Our common version is evidently incorrect as to this clause. The 
pronoun uLrS or \xuvZ, is to be supplied. There is an exactly similar 
ellipsis in ch. vi. 21. Beza and several others, as well as our version, 
have followed a reading, «w^«w<r»;, which GriesbacU disregards as of no 


newness of spirit ; He sets the spirit in opposition to the 
letter ; for before our will is formed according to the will of 
God by the Holy Spirit, we have in the law nothing hut the 
outward letter, which indeed bridles our external actions, 
but does not in the least restrain the fury of our lusts. And 
he ascribes newness to the Spirit, because it succeeds the old 
man ; as the letter is called old, because it perishes through 
the regeneration of the Spirit. 

7. What shall we say then? Is 7. Quid ergo clicemus? Lex pec- 
the law sin ? God forbid. Nay, I catum est ? Absit : sed peccatum non 
had not known sin but by the law : cognovi nisi per Legem : concupis- 
for I had not known lust, except the centiam enim non noveram, nisi Lex 
law had said, Thou shalt not covet. 1 diceret, Non concupisces. 

8. But sin, taking occasion by the 8. Occasione autem sumpta, pec- 
commandment, wrought in me all catum per mandatum efiecit in me 
manner of concupiscence. omnem concupiscentiam. 

7. What then shall we say ? Since it has been said that 
we must be freed from the law, in order that we may serve 
God in newness of spirit, it seemed as though this evil be- 
longed to the law,' — that it leads us to sin. But as this 
would be above measure inconsistent, the Apostle rightly 
undertook to disprove it. Now when he adds, Is the law sin? 
what he means is, " Does it so produce sin that its guilt 
ought to be imputed to the law 1" — But sin I knew not, except 

authority ; and it is inconsistent with the usual phraseology of the Apostle. 
See ver. 4, and Gal. ii. 19. — Ed. 

1 Perhaps the sentence ought to have been rendered, For lust (con- 
cupiscentiam) I had not known, except the law had said, ■' Thou shalt 
not lust " (non concupisces.) Then the word " coveting" in the next verse 
should be " lust " (concupiscentiam.) But " Thou shalt not covet," is the 
commandment ; and to retain a similarity of idea, for the lack of a more 
suitable word, it seems necessary to have coveting, as covetousness has not 
the meaning here intended. There is the same correspondence in the 
words in Greek as in Calvin's Latin. The noun is rendered first in our 
version " lust," and then " concupiscence ;" and the same is done by 
Doddridge ; the '•' strong desire " of Macknight is by no means suitable ; 
the " inordinate desire " of /Stuart is better, though " Thou shalt not lust," 
cannot be approved. By Ivdufiia, desire, is meant the inward propensity 
that is sinful. It is called " sin" in the preceding clause ; and, according 
to the usual style of the Apostle, to show what sin was intended, it is called 
here desire : it is then sin in the wish, in the inclination or disposition 
within. And this very sinful desire the tenth commandment distinctly 
forbids. — Ed. 


through the law ; sin then dwells in us, and not in the law ; 
for the cause of it is the depraved lust of our flesh, and Ave 
come to know it by the knowledge of God's righteousness, 
which is revealed to us in the law. 1 You are not indeed to 
understand, that no difference whatever can be known be- 
tween right and wrong without the law ; but that without 
the law we are either too dull of apprehension to discern our 
depravity, or that we are made wholly insensible through 
self-flattery, according to what follows, — 

For coveting I had not known, &c. This is then an expla- 
nation of the former sentence, by which he proves that 
ignorance of sin, of which he had spoken, consisted in this — 
that he perceived not his own coveting. And he designedly 
referred to this one kind of sin, in which hypocrisy espe- 
cially prevails, which has ever connected with itself supine 
self-indulgence and false assurance. For men are never so 
destitute of judgment, but that they retain a distinction in 
external works ; nay, they are constrained even to condemn 
wicked counsels and sinister purposes : and this they cannot 
do, without ascribing to a right object its own praise. But 
coveting is more hidden and lies deeper ; hence no account 
is made of it, as long as men judge according to their per- 
ceptions of what is outward. He does not indeed boast that 
he was free from it ; but he so flattered himself, that he did 
not think that this sin was lurking in his heart. For though 
for a time he was deceived, and believed not that righteous- 
ness would be violated by coveting, he yet, at length, un- 
derstood that he was a sinner, when he saw that coveting, 
from which no one is free, was prohibited by the law. 

Augustine says, that Paul included in this expression the 
whole law ; which, when rightly understood, is true : for 
when Moses had stated the things from which we must ab- 
stain, that we may not wrong our neighbour, he subjoined 
this prohibition as to coveting, which must be referred to all 
the things previously forbidden. There is no doubt but that 

1 It was the saying of Ambrose, " Lex index peccati est, non genitrix — 
the law is the discoverer, not the hegetter of sin." " The law," says Pareus, 
" prohibits sin ; it is not then the cause of it : sin is made known by the 
law; it is not then by the law produced." — Ed. 


he had in the former precepts condemned all the evil de- 
sires which our hearts conceive ; but there is much diffe- 
rence between a deliberate purpose, and the desires by which 
we are tempted. God then, in this last command, requires 
so much integrity from us, that no vicious lust is to move us 
to evil, even when no consent succeeds. Hence it was, that 
I have said, that Paul here ascends higher than where the 
understanding of men can carry them. But civil laws do 
indeed declare, that intentions and not issues are to be 
punished. Philosophers also, with greater refinement, place 
vices as well as virtues in the soul. But God, by this pre- 
cept, goes deeper and notices coveting, which is more hid- 
den than the will ; and this is not deemed a vice. It was 
pardoned not only by philosophers, but at this day the 
Papists fiercely contend, that it is no sin in the regenerate. 1 
But Paul says, that he had found out his guilt from this 
hidden disease : it hence follows, that all those who labour 
under it, are by no means free from guilt, except God par- 
dons their sin. We ought, at the same time, to remember 
the difference between evil lustings or covetings which gain 
consent, and the lusting which tempts and moves our hearts, 
but stops in the midst of its course. 

8. But an occasion being taken, &c. From sin, then, and 
the corruption of the flesh, proceeds every evil ; the law is 
only the occasion. And though he may seem to speak only 
of that excitement, by which our lusting is instigated through 
the law, so that it boils out with greater fury ; yet I refer 
this chiefly to the knowledge the law conveys ; as though 
he had said, " It has discovered to me every lust or coveting 
which, being hid, seemed somehow to have no existence." 

1 As an instance of the frivolous and puerile mode of reasoning adopted 
by the Papists, the following may be adduced : quoting James i. 15, " When 
lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin ; and sin, when it is finished, 
bringeth forth death," they reason thus : — " Lust is not simply a sin, for it 
brings it forth ; and when it is sin, it is not mortal sin, for it afterwards 
brings forth death." Taking advantage of a metaphor, they apply it 
strictly and literally, without considering that the Apostle is only exhibit- 
ing the rise, progress, and termination — of what ? of sin no doubt. The 
like produces its like. If lust were not sinful, it could not generate what 
is sinful. Such childish and profane reasoning is an outrage both on com- 
mon sense and on religion. — Ed. 


I do not yet deny, but that the flesh is more sharply stimu- 
lated to lusting- by the law, and also by this means more 
clearly shows itself; which may have been also the case with 
Paul : but what I have said of the knowledge it brings, 
seems to harmonize better with the context j 1 for he imme- 
diately subjoins — 

For without the law sin was Sine Lege enim peccatum est 

dead. 2 mortuum : 

9. For I was alive without the law 9. Ego autem vivebam sine Lege 
once ; but when the commandment aliquando ; 3 adveniente autem man- 
came, sin revived, and I died. dato, peccatum revixit, 

10. And the commandment, which 10. Ego autem mortuus sum ; et 
was ordained to life, I found to be deprehensum est a me mandatum 
unto death. quod erat in vitam, cedere in mortem. 

11. For sin, taking occasion by 11. Peccatum enim, occasione 
the commandment, deceived me, and sumpta per mandatum, abduxit me a 
by it slew me. via et per illud occidit : 

12. Wherefore the law is holy, 12. Itaque Lex quidem sancta, 
and the commandment holy, and just, etniandatum sanctum, et justum et 
and good. bonum. 

8. For without the law, &c. He expresses most clearly 
the meaning of his former words ; for it is the same as though 
he had said, that the knowledge of sin without the law is 
buried. It is a general truth, which he presently applies to 
his own case. I hence wonder what could have come into 
the minds of interpreters to render the passage in the pre- 
terimperfect tense, as though Paul was speaking of himself ; 
for it is easy to see that his purpose was to begin with a 

1 Most commentators take the opposite view, — that the irritation of sin 
occasioned by the law is more especially meant here. The two ideas, the 
knowledge and the excitement, or the increase of sin by the law, are no 
doubt referred to by the Apostle in these verses. — Ed. 

2 This clause is rightly separated from the former verse; for it clearly 
announces what is illustrated in the following verses. " Without the law," 
means without the knowledge of the law. The law is known and not 
known still. — Ed. 

3 " Aliquando;" w«ts — formerly, while he was a Pharisee, when he 
thought himself blameless. Critics often make difficulties when there are 
none. What is said here of being alive without the law, or when the law 
is not known, and of the commandment supposed to be for life being found 
to be unto death, is still exemplified in the character of men, and takes 
place in the experience of all who arc brought out of darkness, as Paul 
was, unto marvellous light. Experience is often the best expositor. 

To understand this passage, no more is necessary than to read what 
Paul says of himself in Phil. iii. 4-9; and also in Gal. ii. 19. — Ed. 


general proposition, and then to explain the subject by his 
own example. 

9. For I was alive, &c. He means to intimate that there 
had been a time when sin was dead to him or in him. But 
he is not to be understood as though he had been without 
law at any time, but this word / was alive has a peculiar 
import ; for it was the absence of the law that was the rea- 
son why he was alive ; that is, why he being inflated with a 
conceit as to his own righteousness, claimed life to himself 
while he was yet dead. That the sentence may be more 
clear, state it thus, " When I was formerly without the law, 
I was alive." But I have said that this expression is em- 
phatic ; for by imagining himself great, he also laid claim 
to life. The meaning then is this, " When I sinned, having 
not the knowledge of the law, the sin, which I did not ob- 
serve, was so laid to sleep, that it seemed to be dead ; on the 
other hand, as I seemed not to- myself to be a sinner, I was 
satisfied with myself, thinking that I had a life of mine own." 
But the death of sin is the life of man, and again the life of 
sin- is the death of man. 

It may be here asked, what time was that when through 
his ignorance of the law, or as he himself says, through the 
absence of it, he confidently laid claim to life. It is indeed 
certain, that he had been taught the doctrine of the law 
from his childhood ; but it was the theology of the letter, 
which does not humble its disciples, for as he says elsewhere, 
the veil interposed so that the Jews could not see the light 
of life in the law ; so also he himself, while he had his eyes 
veiled, being destitute of the Spirit of Christ, was satisfied 
with the outward mask of righteousness. Hence he repre- 
sents the law as absent, though before his eyes, while it did 
not really impress him with the consciousness of God's judg- 
ment. Thus the eyes of hypocrites are covered with a veil, 
that they see not how much that command requires, in 
which we are forbidden to lust or covet. 

But when the commandment came, &c. So now, on the 
other hand, he sets forth the law as coming when it began 
to be really understood. It then raised sin as it were from 
the dead ; for it discovered to Paul how great depravity 


abounded in the recesses of his heart, and at the same time 
it slew him. We must ever remember that he speaks of that 
inebriating- confidence in which hypocrites settle, while they 
natter themselves, because they overlook their sins. 

10. Was found by me, &c. Two things are stated here 
— that the commandment shows to us a way of life in the 
righteousness of God, and that it was given in order that we 
by keeping the law of the Lord might obtain eternal life, 
except our corruption stood in the way. But as none of us 
obey the law, but, on the contrary, are carried headlong on 
our feet and hands into that kind of life from which it re- 
calls us, it can bring us nothing but death. We must thus 
distinguish between the character of the law and our own 
wickedness. It hence follows, that it is incidental that the 
law inflicts on us a deadly wound, as when an incurable 
disease is more exasperated by a healing remedy. I indeed 
allow that it is an inseparable incident, and hence the law, 
as compared with the gospel, is called in another place the 
ministration of death ; but still this remains unaltered, that 
it is not in its own nature hurtful to us, but it is so because 
our corruption provokes and draws upon us its curse. 

11. Led me out of the way, &c. It is indeed true, that 
while the will of God is hid from us, and no truth shines on 
us, the life of men goes wholly astray and is full of errors ; 
nay, we do nothing but wander from the right course, until 
the law shows to us the way of living rightly : but as we 
begin then only to perceive our erroneous course, when the 
Lord loudly reproves us, Paul says rightly, that we are led 
out of the way, when sin is made evident by the law. Hence 
the verb, k^airarav, must be understood, not of the thing 
itself, but of our knowledge ; that is, that it is made mani- 
fest by the law how much we have departed from the right 
course. It must then be necessarily rendered, led me out of 
the way ; for hence sinners, who before went on heedlessly, 
loathe and cibominate themselves, when they perceive, 
through the light which the law throws on the turpitude of 
sin, that they had been hastening to death. But he again 
introduces the word occasion, and for this purpose — that we 
may know that the law of itself docs not bring death, but 


that this happens through something else, and that this is 
as it were adventitious. 1 

12. So then the law is indeed holy, &c. Some think that 
the words law and commandment is a repetition of the same 
thing ; with whom I agree ; 2 and I consider that there is a 
peculiar force in the words, when he says, that the law itself 
and whatever is commanded in the law, is holy, and there- 
fore to be regarded with the highest reverence, — that it is 
just, and cannot therefore be charged with anything wrong, — 
that it is good, and hence pure and free from everything 
that can do harm. He thus defends the law against every 
charge of blame, that no one should ascribe to it what is 
contrary to goodness, justice, and holiness. 

13. Was then that which is good 13. Quod ergo boiram est, mihi 
made death unto me ? God forbid, in mortem cessit ? Absit: imo pee- 
But sin, that it might appear sin, catum, ut appareat peccatum, per 
working death in me by that which bonum operatur mihi mortem : ut 
is good ; that sin by the command- fiat super modum peccans peccatum 
ment might become exceeding sinful, per mandatum. 

1 3. Has then what is good, &c. He had hitherto defend- 
ed the law from calumnies, but in such a manner, that it 

1 This verse will be better understood if we consider it as in a manner 
a repetition, in another form, of what the former verse contains, and this 
is perfectly consistent with the usual manner of the Apostle. His object 
seems to have been to prevent a misapprehension of what he had said, that 
the commandment which was for life proved to be unto death. He hence 
says, that sin availed itself of the commandment, and by it deceived him, 
that is, promised him life, and then by it killed him, that is, proved fatal 
to him. There is a correspondence in meaning between the commandment 
unto life and deceiving, and between death and killing. In verse 8, sin, as 
a person, is said to take advantage of the commandment to work every 
kind of sinful desires ; but it is said here to take this advantage to deceive 
by promising life, and then to destroy, to expose, and subject him to death 
and misery. — Ed. 

2 This is doubtless true ; and it is an example of what the Apostle's 
manner of writing is, it being that of the ancient prophets. How various 
are the words used in the 1 ] 9th Psalm to designate the law or the reveal- 
ed will of God ? and two different words are often used in the same verse. 

Having spoken of the law in connection with sin, the Apostle may be 
supposed to have had the character of sin in view in characterizing the 
law. Sin works depraved desires and lusts ; the law is holy : sin deceives 
and acts the traitor ; the law is plain-dealing and just : sin leads to death 
and misery ; the law is good and leads to happiness. The last contrast is 
evident from what follows in the next verse, " Was that which is good 
made death unto me ?" — Ed. 



still remained doubtful whether it was the cause of death ; 
nay, the minds of men were on this point perplexed, — how 
could it be that nothing but death was gained from so sin- 
gular a gift of God. To this objection then he now gives an 
answer ; and he denies, that death proceeds from the law, 
though death through its means is brought on us by sin. 
And though this answer seems to militate in appearance 
against what he had said before — that he had found the 
commandment, which was given for life, to be unto death, 
there is yet no contrariety. He had indeed said before, that 
it is through our wickedness that the law is turned to our 
destruction, and that contrary to its own character ; but 
here he denies, that it is in such a sense the cause of death, 
that death is to be imputed to it. In 2 Cor. iii. he treats 
more fully of the law. He there calls it the ministration of 
death ; but he so calls it according to what is commonly 
done in a dispute, and represents, not the real character of 
the law, but the false opinion of his opponents. 1 

But sin, &c. With no intention to offend others, I must 
state it as my opinion, that this passage ought to be read as 
I have rendered it, and the meaning is this, — " Sin is in a 
manner regarded as just before it is discovered by the law ; 
but when it is by the law made known, then it really ob- 
tains its own name of sin ; and hence it appears the more 
wicked, and, so to speak, the more sinful, because it turns 
the goodness of the law, by perverting it, to our destruction ; 
for that must be very pestiferous, which makes what is in 
its own nature salutary to be hurtful to us/' The import of 
the whole is — that it was necessary for the atrocity of sin 
to be discovered by the law ; for except sin had burst forth 
into outrageous, or, as they say, into enormous excess, it 
would not have been acknowledged as sin ; and the more 
outrageous does its enormity appear, when it converts life 
into death ; and thus every excuse is taken away from it. 2 

1 This can hardly be admitted. The Apostle in Corinthians evidently 
states a fact, as he often does, without going into an explanation ; and the 
fact was, that the law proved to be the ministration of death : but it 
proved to be so through the sin and wickedness of man. — Ed. 

2 Erasmus, Beza, Parens, Stuart, and others, make up the ellipsis by 
putting in, " was made death to me," after " sin." But there is no need 


14. For we know that the law is 14. Scimus enim quod Lex spiri- 
spiritual ; but I am carnal, sold tualis est : ego autem carnalis sum, 
under sin. venditus sub peccato. 

15. For that which I do I allow 15. Quod enim operor, non intel- 
not: for what I would, that do I ligo; siquidem non quod volo, hoc 
not; but what I hate, that do I. ago: sed quod odi, hoc facio. 

16. If then I do that which I 16. Si vero quod nolo, hoc facio, 
would not, I consent unto the law consentio Legi Dei quod sit bona, 
that it is good. 

17. Now then, it is no more I that 17. Nunc vero non jam illud 
do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. operor ego, sed quod habitat in me 


14. For we know that the law, &c. He now begins more 
closely to compare the law with what man is, that it may be 
more clearly understood whence the evil of death proceeds. 
He then sets before us an example in a regenerate man, in 
whom the remnants of the flesh are wholly contrary to the 
law of the Lord, while the spirit would gladly obey it. But 
first, as we have said, he makes only a comparison between 
nature and the law. Since in human things there is no 
greater discord than between spirit and flesh, the law being 
spiritual and man carnal, what agreement can there be be- 
tween the natural man and the law ? Even the same as 
between darkness and light. But by calling the law spiritual, 
he not only means, as some expound the passage, that it re- 
quires the inward affections of the heart ; but that, by way 
of contrast, it has a contrary import to the word carnal} 
These interpreters give this explanation, " The law is sjfiri- 
tual, that is, it binds not only the feet and hands as to ex- 
ternal works, but regards the feelings of the heart, and 
requires the real fear of God/' 

But here a contrast is evidently set forth between the 
flesh and the spirit. And further, it is sufficiently clear from 

of adding anything. The sentence throughout is thoroughly Hebraistic. 
What is partially announced in the words, " that it might appear sin," or, 
to be sin, &c, is more fully stated in the last clause; and the participle, 
" working" — wrij^in, is used instead of a verb, the auxiliary verb 
being understood. See similar instances in chap. xiv. 9-13. Calvin's 
version is no doubt the correct one. What follows the last "m more fully 
explains what comes after the first. — Ed. 

1 This is evidently the case here. As carnal means what is sinful and 
corrupt, so spiritual imports what is holy, just, and good. As the works 
of the flesh are evil and depraved Avorks, so the fruits of the Spirit are good 
and holy fruits. See Gal. v. 19, 22, and particularly John iii. 6. — Ed. 


the context, and it has been in fact already shown, that 
under the term flesh is included whatever men bring from 
the womb ; and flesh is what men are called, as they are 
born, and as long as they retain their natural character ; for 
as they are corrupt, so they neither taste nor desire any- 
thing but what is gross and earthly. Spirit, on the contrary, 
is renewed nature, which God forms anew after his own 
image. And this mode of speaking is adopted on this ac- 
count — because the newness which is wrought in us is the 
gift of the Spirit. 

The perfection then of the doctrine of the law is opposed 
here to the corrupt nature of man : hence the meaning is as 
follows, " The law requires a celestial and an angelic right- 
eousness, in which no spot is to appear, to whose clearness 
nothing is to be wanting : but I am a carnal man, who can 
do nothing but oppose it/' 1 But the exposition of Origen, 
which indeed has been approved by many before our time, 
is not worthy of being refuted ; lie says, that the law is 
called spiritual by Paul, because the Scripture is not to be 
un lersfcood literally. What has this to do with the present 
subject ? 

Sold under sin. By this clause he shows what flesh is in 

1 " He is ' carnal' in exact proportion to the degree in which he falls 
short of perfect conformity to the law of God." — Scott. 

It has been usual with a certain class of divines, such as Hammond and 
Bull, to hold that all the Fathers before Augustine viewed Paid here as 
not speaking of himself. But this is plainly contradicted by what Angus- 
'ine declares himself in several parts of his writings. In his Retractations, 
B. i. chap. 23, he refers to some authors of divine discourses (quibusdam 
divinorum tractatoribus eloquiorum) by whose authority he was induced to 
change his opinion, and to regard Paul here as speaking of himself. He 
alludes again in his work against Julian, an advocate of Pelagianism, B. 6, 
chap, xi., to this very change in his view, and ascribes it to the reading of 
the works of those who were better and more intelligent than himself, 
(melioribus et intelligentioribus cessi.) Then he refers to them by name, 
and says, " Hence it was that I came to understand these things, as Hilary, 
Gregory, Ambrose, and other holy and known doctors of the Church, un- 
derstood them, who thought that the Apostle himself strenuously struggled 
against carnal lusts, which he was unwilling to have, and yet had, and that 
he bore witness as to this conflict in these words," (referring to this very 
text,) — Hinc factum est, ut sic ista intelligerem, quemadmodum intellexit 
Hilarius, Guegorius, Amhrosius, et cceteri Ecclesice sancti notique doc- 
tores, qui et ipsum Aposlolum adversus carnales concupiscentias, quas 
habere nolebat, et tamen habebat, strenue confiixisse, eundemque conflictum, 
suum Mis suis verbis contestatum fuisse senserunt. — Ed. 


itself; for man by nature is no less the slave of sin, than 
those bondmen, bought with money, whom their masters ill 
treat at their pleasure, as they do their oxen and their 
asses. We are so entirely controlled by the power of sin, 
that the whole mind, the whole heart, and all our actions 
are under its influence. Compulsion I always except, for we 
sin spontaneously, as it would be no sin, were it not volun- 
tary. But we are so given up to sin, that we can do wil- 
lingly nothing but sin ; for the corruption which bears rule 
within us thus drives us onward. Hence this comparison 
does not import, as they say, a forced service, but a volun- 
tary obedience, which an inbred bondage inclines us to 

15. For what I do I know not, Sec. He now comes to a 
more particular case, that of a man already regenerated y 1 

1 It appears from this, that Calvin did not apply the foregoing words, 
" I am carnal, sold under sin," in the same way : but they are evidently 
connected together. They are indeed strong words, and some explain them 
in such a way as to be wholly unsuitable to a renewed man ; but we ought 
to take the explanation as given by the Apostle himself in what follows, for 
he handles the subject to the end of the chapter. 

Various fictions have been resorted to by critics on this point. The 
Apostle has been supposed by some to speak of himself as under the law, 
or as Stuart terms it, " in a law-state," and such is the scheme of Ham- 
mond. Others have imagined, that he personates a Jew living during the 
time between Abraham and the giving of the law ; and this was Locke's 
idea. A third party have entertained the notion, that the Apostle, speak- 
ing in his own person, represents, by a sort of fiction, as Vitringa and 
some others have imagined, the effects of the law in Jews and proselytes, 
as opposed to the effects of the gospel, as delineated in the next chapter. 
And a fourth party maintain, that the Apostle describes a man in a tran- 
sition-state, in whom God's Spirit works for his conversion, but who is as 
yet doubtful which way to turn, to sin or to God. 

All these conjectures have arisen, because the language is not taken in 
its obvious meaning, and according to the Apostle's own explanation. As 
soon as we depart from the plain meaning of the text and the context, we 
open a door to endless conjectures and fictions. The Apostle says nothing 
here of himself, but what every real Christian finds to be true. Is not a 
Christian, yea, the best, in this world carnal, as well as spiritual ? Is he 
not " sold under sin ?" that is, subjected to a condition, in which he is con- 
tinually annoyed, tempted, hindered, restrained, checked, and seduced by 
the depravity and corruption of his nature ; and in which he is always kept 
far below what he aims at, seeks and longs for. It was the saying of a 
good man, lately gone to his rest, whose extended pilgrimage was ninety- 
three years, that he must have been often swallowed up by despair, had it 
not been for the seventh chapter of the Epistle to the Romans. The best 
interpreter of many things in Scripture is spiritual experience ; without 


in whom both the things which he had in view appear more 
clearly ; and these were, — the great discord there is between 
the law of Gfod and the natural man, — and how the law does 
not of itself produce death. For since the carnal mail rushes 
into sin with the whole propensity of his mind, he seems to 
sin with such a free choice, as though it were in his power 
to govern himself; so that a most pernicious opinion has 
prevailed almost among all men — that man, by his own na- 
tural strength, without the aid of Divine grace, can choose 
what he pleases. But though the will of a faithful man is 
led to good by the Spirit of Grod, yet in him the corruption 
of nature appears conspicuously ; for it obstinately resists 
and leads to what is contrary. Hence the case of a regene- 
rated man is the most suitable ; for by this you may know 
how much is the contrariety between our nature and the 
righteousness of the law. From this case, also, a proof as 
to the other clause may more fitly be sought, than from the 
mere consideration of human nature ; for the law, as it pro- 
duces only death in a man wholly carnal, is in him more 
easily impeached, for it is doubtful whence the evil proceeds. 
In a regenerate man it brings forth salutary fruits ; and 
hence it appears, that it is the flesh only that pi'events it 
from giving life : so far it is from producing death of itself. 

That the whole, then, of this reasoning may be more fully 
and more distinctly understood, we must observe, that this 
conflict, of which the Apostle speaks, does not exist in man 
before he is renewed by the Spirit of God : for man, left to 
his own nature, is wholly borne along by his lusts without 
any resistance ; for though the ungodly are tormented by the 
stings of conscience, and cannot take such delight in their 
vices, but that they have some taste of bitterness ; yet you 
cannot hence conclude, either that evil is hated, or that good 
is loved by them ; only the Lord permits them to be thus 
tormented, in order to show to them in a measure his judg- 

it no. right judgment can be formed. Hence it is that the learned often 
stumble at what is quite plain and obvious to the illiterate when spiritually 
enlightened. Critics sometimes find great difficulties in what is fully un- 
derstood by a simpler minded Christian, taught from above. " Wayfaring 
men " are far better divines than any of the learned, who possess nothing- 
more than natural talents and natural acquirements. — Ed. 


ment ; but not to imbue them either with the love of right- 
eousness or with the hatred of sin. 

There is then this difference between them and the faith- 
ful — that they are never so blinded and hardened, but that 
when they are reminded of their crimes, they condemn them 
in their own conscience ; for knowledge is not so utterly 
extinguished in them, but that they still retain the differ- 
ence between right and wrong ; and sometimes they are 
shaken with such dread under a sense of their sin, that 
they bear a kind of condemnation even in this life : never- 
theless they approve of sin with all their heart, and hence 
give themselves up to it without any feeling of genuine re- 
pugnance ; for those stings of conscience, by which they are 
harassed, proceed from opposition in the judgment, rather 
than from any contrary inclination in the will. The godly, 
on the other hand, in whom the regeneration of God is be- 
gun, are so divided, that with the chief desire of the heart 
they aspire to God, seek celestial righteousness, hate sin, 
and yet they are drawn down to the earth by the relics of 
their flesh : and thus, while pulled in two ways, they fight 
against their own nature, and nature fights against them ; 
and they condemn their sins, not only as being constrained 
by the judgment of reason, but because they really in their 
hearts abominate them, and on their account loathe them- 
selves. This is the Christian conflict between the flesh and 
the spirit, of which Paul speaks in Gal. v. 1 7. 

It has therefore been justly said, that the carnal man runs 
headlong into sin with the approbation and consent of the 
whole soul ; but that a division then immediately begins for 
the first time, when he is called by the Lord and renewed by 
the Spirit. For regeneration only begins in this life ; the 
relics of the flesh which remain, always follow their own cor- 
rupt propensities, and thus carry on a contest against the 

The inexperienced, who consider not the subject which the 
Apostle handles, nor the plan which he pursues, imagine, 
that the character of man by nature is here described ; and 
indeed there is a similar description of human nature given 
to us by the Philosophers : but Scripture philosophizes much 


deeper ; for it finds that nothing has remained in the heart 
of man but corruption, since the time in which Adam lost 
the image of Grod. So when the Sophisters wish to define 
free-will, or to form an estimate of what the power of nature 
can do, they fix on this passage. But Paul, as I have said 
already, does not here set before us simply the natural man, 
but in his own person describes what is the weakness of the 
faithful, and how great it is. Augustine was for a time in- 
volved in the common error ; but after having more clearly 
examined the passage, he not only retracted what he had 
falsely taught, but in his first book to Boniface, he proves, 
by many strong reasons, that what is said cannot be applied 
to any but to the regenerate. And we shall now endeavour 
to make our readers clearly to see that such is the case. 

/ knoiu not. He means that he acknowledges not as his 
own the works which he did through the weakness of the 
flesh, for he hated them. And so Erasmus has not unsuit- 
ably given this rendering, "I approve not," (non probo.) 1 
We hence conclude, that the doctrine of the law is so con- 
sentaneous to right judgment, that the faithful repudiate the 
transgression of it as a thing wholly unreasonable. But as 
Paul seems to allow that he teaches otherwise than what 
the law prescribes, many interpreters have been led astray, 
and have thought that he had assumed the person of another ; 
hence has arisen the common error, that the character of an 
unregenerate man is described throughout this portion of 
the chapter. But Paul, under the idea of transgressing the 
law, includes all the defects of the godly, which are not in- 
consistent with the fear of God or with the endeavour of 
acting uprightly. And he denies that he did what the law 
demanded, for this reason, because he did not perfectly fulfil 
it, but somewhat failed in his effort. 

For not what 1 desire, &c. You must not understand that 
it was always the case with him, that he could not do good ; 

1 " Pii quod perpetrant non agnoscunt, non approbant, non cxcusant, non 
palliant ;" — " What the godly do [amiss,] they know not, approve not, ex- 
cuse not, palliate not." — Parens. 

The verb yiwnv is used here in the sense of the Hebrew verb V^, 
which is often so rendered by the Septuagint. See Ps. i. 6 ; Hos. viii. 4 ; 
and Matt. vii. 23.— Ed. 


but what he complains of is only this — that he could not per- 
form what he wished, so that he pursued not what was good 
with that alacrity which was meet, because he was held in 
a manner bound, and that he also failed in what he wished 
to do, because he halted through the weakness of the flesh. 
Hence the pious mind performs not the good it desires to do, 
because it proceeds not with due activity, and cloeth the evil 
which it would not ; for while it desires to stand, it falls, or 
at least it staggers. But the expressions to will and not to 
will must be applied to the Spirit, which ought to hold the 
first place in all the faithful. The flesh indeed has also its 
own will, but Paul calls that the will which is the chief 
desire of the heart ; and that which militates with it he re- 
presents as being contrary to his will. 

We may hence learn the truth of what we have stated — ■ 
that Paul speaks here of the faithful, 1 in whom the grace of 
the Spirit exists, which brings an agreement between the 
mind and the righteousness of the law ; for no hatred of sin 
is to be found in the flesh. 

1 6. But if what I desire not, I do, I consent to the law, 
&c. ; that is, "When my heart acquiesces in the law, and is 
delighted with its righteousness, (which certainly is the case 
when it hates the transgression of it,) it then perceives and 
acknowledges the goodness of the law, so that we are fully 
convinced, experience itself being our teacher, that no evil 
ought to be imputed to the law ; nay, that it would be salu- 
tary to men, were it to meet with upright and pure hearts." 
But this consent is not to be understood to be the same 

1 " As the Apostle was far more enlightened and humble than Christians 
in general are, doubtless this clog (indwelling sin) was more uneasy to him 
than it is to them, though most of us find our lives at times greatly em- 
bittered by it. So that this energetic language, -which many imagine to 
describe an unestablished believer's experience, or even that of an uncon- 
verted man, seems to have resulted from the extraordinary degree of St. 
Paul's sanctification, and the depth of his self-abasement and hatred of sin ; 
and the reason of our not readily understanding him seems to be, because 
we are far beneath him in holiness, humility, acquaintance with the spiri- 
tuality of God's law, and the evil of our own hearts, and in our degree of 
abhorrence of moral evil." — Scott. 

" "What some mistake as the evidence of a spiritual decline on the part 
of the Apostle, was in fact the evidence of his growth. It is the effusion of 
a more quick and cultured sensibility than fell to the lot of ordinary men." 
— Chalmers, 


with what we have heard exists in the ungodly, who have 
expressed words of this kind, " I see better things and ap- 
prove of them ; I follow the worse." Again, " What is hurt- 
ful I follow ; I shun what I believe would be profitable/' 
For these act under a constraint when they subscribe to the 
righteousness of God, as their will is wholly alienated from 
it, but the godly man consents to the law with the real and 
most cheerful desire of his heart ; for he wishes nothing 
more than to mount up to heaven. 1 

17. Noiv it is no more I who do it, &c. This is not the 
pleading of one excusing himself, as though he was blame- 
less, as the case is with many triflers who think that they 
have a sufficient defence to cover all their wickedness, when 
they cast the blame on the flesh ; but it is a declaration, by 
which he shows how very far he dissented from- his own 
flesh in his spiritual feeling ; for the faithful are carried 
along in their obedience to God with such fervour of spirit 
that they deny the flesh. 

This passage also clearly shows, that Paul speaks here of 
none but of the godly, who have been already born again ; 
for as long as man remains like himself, whatsoever he may 
be, he is justly deemed corrupt ; but Paul here denies that 
he is wholly possessed by sin ; nay, he declares himself to be 
exempt from its bondage, as though he had said, that sin 
only dwelt in some part of his soul, while with an earnest 
feeling of heart he strove for and aspired after the right- 
eousness of God, and clearly proved that he had the law of 
God engraven within him. 2 

18. For I know that in me (that 18. Novi enim quod non habitat 3 
is, in my flesh) dwelleth no good in me (hoc est, in came mea)bonum: 
thing : for to will is present with me ; siquidem velle adest mihi, sed ut 
but how to perform that which is perficiam honum non reperio. 
good I find not. 

19. For the good that I would I 19. Non enim quod volo facio 

1 "I consent — consentio — a-vfupnfn, I say with, assent to, agree with, 
confirm." — Ed. 

2 The last clause of this verse is worthy of notice, as the expression 
"indwelling sin" seems to have arisen from the words k olxovtm ly Ipo) — 
" which dwells in me." Sin was in him as in a house or dwelling ; it was 
an in-habiting sin, or that which is in-abiding or resident. — Ed. 

8 Non habitat .... bonum — ««* olxti .... a.ya.6'01. — Ed. 


do not : but the evil which I would bonum ; sed quod nolo malum, id 

not, that I do. ago. 

20. Now, if I do that I would not, 20. Si vero quod nolo ego id facio, 

it is no more I that do it, but sin non jam ego operor illud, sed quod 

that dwelleth in me. habitat in me peccatum. 

18. For I know, &c. He says that no good by nature 
dwelt in him. Then in me, means the same as though he 
had said, " So far as it regards myself." In the first part 
he indeed arraigns himself as being wholly depraved, for he 
confesses that no good dwelt in him ; and then he subjoins 
a modification, lest he should slight the grace of God which 
also dwelt in him, but was no part of his flesh. And here 
again he confirms the fact, that he did not speak of men in 
general, but of the faithful, who are divided into two parts 
— the relics of the flesh, and grace. For why was the modi- 
fication made, except some part was exempt from depravity, 
and therefore not flesh ? Under the term flesh, he ever in- 
cludes all that human nature is, everything in man, except 
the sanctification of the Spirit. In the same manner, by 
the term spirit, which is commonly opposed to the flesh, he 
means that part of the soul which the Spirit of God has so 
re-formed, and purified from corruption, that God's image 
shines forth in it. Then both terms, flesh as well as spirit, 
belong to the soul ; but the latter to that part which is re- 
newed, and the former to that which still retains its natural 
character. 1 

To will is present, &c. He does not mean that he had 
nothing but an ineffectual desire, but his meaning is, that 
the work really done did not correspond to his will ; for the 

1 The Apostle here is his own interpreter ; he explains who the I is that 
does what the other I disapproved, and who the / is that hates what the 
other /does. He tells us here that it is not the same/, though announced 
at first as though it were the same. The one /, he informs us here, was 
his flesh, his innate sin or corruption, and the other /, he tells us in verse 
22, was " the inner man," his new nature. The " inner man," as Calvin 
will tell us presently, is not the soul as distinguished from the body, but 
the renewed man as distinguished from the flesh. It is the same as the 
" new man," as distinguished from " the old man." See Eph. iv. 22, 24 ; 
Rom. vi. 6 ; 2 Cor. v. 17. But " the inward man," and " the outward man," 
in 2 Cor. iv. 16, are the soul and the body ; and " the inner man," in Eph. 
iii. 16, the same expression as in verse 22, means the soul, as it is evident 
from the context. The same is meant by " the hidden man of the heart," 
in 1 Peter iii. 4. — Ed. 


flesh hindered him from doing perfectly what he did. So 
also understand what follows, The evil I desire not, that I do: 
for the flesh not only impedes the faithful, so that they can- 
not run swiftly, but it sets also before them many obstacles 
at which they stumble. Hence they do not, because they 
accomplish not, what they would, with the alacrity that is 
meet. This, to will, then, which he mentions, is the readi- 
ness of faith, when the Holy Spirit so prepares the godly 
that they are ready and strive to render obedience to God ; 
but as their ability is not equal to what they wish, Paul 
says, that he found not what he desired, even the accom- 
plishment of the good he aimed at. 

19. The same view is to be taken of the expression which 
next follows, — that he did not the good which he desired ; 
but, on the contrary, the evil which he desired not : for the 
faithful, however rightly they may be influenced, are yet so 
conscious of their own infirmity, that they can deem no work 
proceeding from them as blameless. For as Paul does not 
here treat of some of the faults of the godly, but delineates 
in general the whole course of their life, we conclude that 
their best works are always stained with some blots of sin, 
so that no reward can be hoped, unless God pardons them. 

He at last repeats the sentiment,- — that, as far as he was 
endued with celestial light, he was a true witness and sub- 
scriber to the righteousness of the law. It hence follows, 
that had the pure integrity of our nature remained, the law 
would not have brought death on us, and that it is not ad- 
verse to the man who is endued with a sound and right mind 
and abhors sin. But to restore health is the w r ork of our 
heavenly Physician. 

21. I find then a law, that, when 21. Reperio igitur Legem volenti 
I would do good, evil is present with mihi facere honum quod raihi malum 
me. insideat. 1 

22. For I delight in the law of 22. Consentio enim Legi Dei se- 
God after the inward man : cundum interiorem hominem. 

23. But I see another law in my 23. Video autem alteram Legem 
members warring against the law of in membris meis, repugnantem 2 legi 

1 "Insideat," — trajaxecra/ ; the same verb in verse 18, is rendered adest 
— is present. It means, to lie near, to be at hand. — Ed. 

2 " Repugnantem," — avrnrr^aTii/ifuvov, placing itself in battle array, fight- 


my mind, and bringing me into cap- mentis mese, et captivum me red- 
tivity to the law of sin which, is in dentem legi peccati, quae est in 
my members. membris meis. 

21. / find then, &c. Here Paul supposes a fourfold law. 
The first is the law of God, which alone is properly so called, 
which is the rule of righteousness, by which our life is rightly 
formed. To this he joins the law of the mind, and by this 
he means the prompt readiness of the faithful mind to render 
obedience to the divine law, it being a certain conformity on 
our part with the law of God. On the other hand, he sets 
in opposition to this the law of unrighteousness ; and ac- 
cording to a certain kind of similarity, he gives this name to 
that dominion which iniquity exercises over a man not yet 
regenerated, as well as over the flesh of a regenerated man ; 
for the laws even of tyrants, however iniquitous they may 
be, are called laws, though not properly. To correspond 
with this law of sin he makes the law of the members, that 
is, the lust which is in the members, on account of the con- 
cord it has with iniquity. 

As to the first clause, many interpreters take the word 
law in its proper sense, and consider Kara or Sta to be un- 
derstood ; and so Erasmus renders it, " by the law ;" as 
though Paul had said, that he, by the law of God as his 
teacher and guide, had found out that his sin was innate. 
But without supplying anything, the sentence would run 
better thus, " While the faithful strive after what is good, 
they find in themselves a certain law which exercises a 
tyrannical power ; for a vicious propensity, adverse to and 
resisting the law of God, is implanted in their very marrow 
and bones/' 

22. For I consent 1 to the law of God, &c. Here then you 

ing or warring against, taking the field or marching against an enemy. 
Then follows " taking" an enemy " captive," «.Ixf-aXwr'^atra.. There are 
two sorts of captives, willing and unwilling. The latter is the case here ; 
for the Apostle compares himself to captives of war, which are made so 
by force. The same is meant as by the expression, " sold under sin," verse 
14,— the constrained condition of being subject during life, to the annoy- 
ances, to the tempting, seducing, and deadening power of innate corrup- 
tion. — Ed. 

1 " Consentio," auv&opai; it is not the same verb as in ver. 16; this 


see what sort of division there is in pious souls, from which 
arises that contest between the spirit and the flesh, which 
Augustine in some place calls the Christian struggle (luctam 
Christi'anam) The law calls man to the rule of righteousness ; 
iniquity, which is, as it were, the tyrannical law of Satan, in- 
stigates him to wickedness : the Spirit leads him to render 
obedience to the divine law ; the flesh draws him back to 
what is of an opposite character. Man, thus impelled by con- 
trary desires, is now in a manner a twofold being ; but as the 
Spirit ought to possess the sovereignty, he deems and judges 
himself to be especially on that side. Paul says, that he 
was bound a captive by his flesh for this reason, because as 
he was still tempted and incited by evil lusts ; he deemed 
this a coercion with respect to the spiritual desire, which 
was wholly opposed to them. 1 

signifies more than consent, for it includes gratification and delight. See 
Ps. i. 2. The verb is found only here. Macknight's version, " I am 
pleased with," is very feeble and inexpressive ; Stuart's is better, " I take 
pleasure in ;" but our common version is the best, " I delight in." 

The yv-g here would be better rendered " indeed :" the Apostle makes 
declaration as to his higher principle ; and then in the next verse he states 
more fully what he had said in ver. 21. This exactly corresponds with 
his usual mode in treating subjects. He first states a thing generally, and 
afterwards more particularly, in more specific terms, and with something 
additional. — Ed. 

1 Some consider the conclusion of ver. 23, " to the law of sin which is 
in my members," as a paraphrase for " to itself ;" as the Apostle describes 
it at the beginning as the law in his members : and the reason which may 
be assigned for the repetition is twofold,- — to preserve the distinction be- 
tween it and " the law of the mind" in the preceding clause, — and to give 
it a more distinctive character, by denominating it " the law of sin." We 
in fact find a gradation in the way in which it is set forth : in ver. 21, 
he calls it simply " a law ;" in this verse he first calls it " another law in 
his members," and then, " the law of sin in his members." 

The construction of ver. 21, is difficult. Parens quotes Chrysostom as 
supposing ffipQnvcti from ver. 16, to be understood after " law," so as to 
give this rendering, " I find then that the law assents to me desiring to do 
good," &c, that is, that the law of God was on his side, " though evil was 
present with him." He then gives his own view, it being essentially that 
of Augustine: he supposes °n xaXos, from ver. 16, to be understood after 
" law," and that on, in the last clause, is to be construed " though :" the 
verse is then to be rendered thus, — " I find then the law, that it is good 
to me desiring to do good, though evil is present with me." The verse 
taken by itself may thus present a good meaning, but not one that har- 
monizes with the context, or that forms a«part of the Apostle's argument. 
The only other construction that deserves nolice is that of our own ver- 
sion, and of Calvin, and it is that alone which corresponds with the con- 


But we ought to notice carefully the meaning of the inner 
man and of the members ; which many have not rightly 
understood, and have therefore stumbled at this stone. The 
inner man then is not simply the soul, but that spiritual 
part which has been regenerated by God ; and the members 
signify the other remaining part ; for as the soul is the 
superior, and the body the inferior part of man, so the spirit 
is superior to the flesh. Then as the spirit takes the place 
of the soul in man, and the flesh, which is the corrupt and 
polluted soul, that of the body, the former has the name of 
the inner man, and the latter has the name of members. 
The inner man has indeed a different meaning in 2 Cor. iv. 
16 ; but the circumstances of this passage require the inter- 
pretation which I have given : and it is called the inner by 
way of excellency ; for it possesses the heart and the secret 
feelings, while the desires of the flesh are vagrant, and are, 
as it'were, on the outside of man. Doubtless it is the same 
thing as though one compared heaven to earth ; for Paul by 
way of contempt designates whatever appears to be in man 
by the term members, that he might clearly show that the 
hidden renovation is concealed from and escapes our ob- 
servation, except it be apprehended by faith. 

Now since the law of the mind undoubtedly means a prin- 
ciple rightly formed, it is evident that this passage is very 

text. It has been adopted by Beza, Grotius, Venema, Turrettin, Dod- 
dridge, and others. 

This verse, and the tAVO which follow, conclude the subject, and also 
explain what he had been saying about willing and doing. He in fact 
accounts here for the paradoxical statements which he had made, by men- 
tioning the operation and working of two laws, which were directly con- 
trary to one another. It seems to be a mistake that he alludes to four 
laws ; for the law of the mind and the law of God are the same, under 
different names ; it is that of the mind, because it belongs to and resides in 
the mind : and it is the law of God, because it comes from him, and is 
implanted by his Spirit. To the other law he also gives two names, the 
" law in his members," and the " law of sin. " This view is confirmed by 
the last verse in the chapter, which contains a summary of the whole. 

The latter part of ver. 23 is in character with the Hebraistic style, 
when the noun is stated instead of the pronoun ; see Gen. ix. 16 ; Ps. 1. 
23 ; and it is also agreeable to the same style to add the same sentiment 
with something more specific appended to it. This part then might be 
rendered thus,—" and making me captive to itself, even to the law of sin, 
which is in my members." — Ed. 


absurdly applied to men not yet regenerated ; for Such, as 
Paul teaches us, are destitute of mind, inasmuch as their 
soul has become degenerated from reason. 

24. O wretched man that I am ! 24. Miser ego homo ! quis me 
who shall deliver me from the body eripiet a corpore mortis hoc ? 

of this death ? 

25. I thank God, through Jesus 25. Gratias ago Deo per Iesum 
Christ our Lord. So then with the Christum Dominum nostrum : itaque 
mind I myself serve the law of God, idem ego mente servio Legi Dei, 
but with the flesh the law of sin. carne autem legi peccati. 

24. Miserable, &c. He closes his argument with a vehe- 
ment exclamation, by which he teaches us that we are not 
only to struggle with our flesh, but also with continual 
groaning to bewail within ourselves and before God our un- 
happy condition. But he asks not by whom he was to be de- 
livered, as one in doubt, like unbelievers, who understand 
not that there is but one real deliverer: but it is the voice 
of one panting and almost fainting, because he does not 
find immediate help, 1 as he longs for. And he mentions the 
word rescue, 2 in order that he might show, that for his liber- 
ation no ordinary exercise of divine power was necessary. 

By the body of death he means the whole mass of sin, or 
those ingredients of which the whole man is composed ; 
except that in him there remained only relics, by the captive 
bonds of which he was held. The pronoun tovtov, this, 
which I apply, as Erasmus does, to the body, may also be 
fitly referred to death, and almost in the same sense ; for 
Paul meant to teach us, that the eyes of God's children are 
opened, so that through the law of God they wisely discern 
the corruption of their nature and the death which from it 
proceeds. But the word body means the same as the exter- 
nal man and members; for Paul points out this as the origin 
of evil, that man has departed from the law of his creation, 

1 TaXa/Vwjas, miser, ferumnosus ; " it denotes," says Schlewsner, " one 
who is broken down and wearied with the most grievous toils." It is used 
by the Septuagint for the word 7MW, wasted, spoiled, desolated. See 
Ps. cxxxvii. 8; Is. xxxiii. 1. — Ed. 

2 " Eripere" — pluck out, rescue, take away by force ; pva-trai — shall 
draw, rescue or extricate ; it means a forcible act, effected by power. — Ed. 


and has become thus carnal and earthly. For though he 
still excels brute beasts, yet his true excellency has departed 
from him, and what remains in him is full of numberless 
corruptions, so that his soul, being degenerated, may be 
justly said to have passed into a body. So God says by 
Moses, " No more shall my Spirit contend with man, for he 
is even flesh," (Gen. vi. 3 :) thus stripping man of his spi- 
ritual excellency, he compares him, by way of reproach, to 
the brute creation. 1 

This passage is indeed remarkably fitted for the purpose 
of beating down all the glory of the flesh ; for Paul teaches 
us, that the most pei'fect, as long as they dwell in the flesh, 
are exposed to misery, for they are subject to death ; nay, 
when they thoroughly examine themselves, they find in their 
own nature nothing but misery. And further, lest they 
should indulge their torpor, Paul, by his own example, 
stimulates them to anxious groanings, and bids them, as 
long as they sojourn on earth, to desire death, as the only 
true remedy to their evils ; and this is the right object in 
desiring death. Despair does indeed drive the profane often 
to such a wish ; but they strangely desire death, because they 
are weary of the present life, and not because they loathe 
their iniquity. But it must be added, that though the faith- 
ful level at the true mark, they are not yet carried away by 
an unbridled desire in wishing for death, but submit them- 
selves to the will of God, to whom it behoves us both to live 
and to die : hence they clamour not with displeasure against 
God, but humbly deposit their anxieties in his bosom ; for 
they do not so dwell on the thoughts of their misery, but 
that being mindful of grace received, they blend their grief 
with joy, as we find in what follows. 

25. / thank God, &c. He then immediately subjoined this 
thanksgiving, lest any should think that in his complaint 
he perversely murmured against God ; for we know how easy 

1 " This body of death" is an evident Hebraism, meaning " this deadly 
or morbiferous body ;" which is not the material body, but the body of " the 
old man," ver. 6 ; called the " body of sin," when its character is de- 
scribed, and the " body of death," when the issue to which it leads is in- 
tended : it conducts to death, condemnation, and misery. — Ed. 


even in legitimate grief is the transition to discontent and 
impatience. Though Paul then bewailed his lot, and sighed 
for his departure, he yet confesses that he acquiesced in the 
good pleasure of God ; for it does not become the saints, 
while examining their own defects, to forget what they have 
already received from God. 1 

But what is sufficient to bridle impatience and to cherish 
resignation, is the thought, that they have been received 
under the protection of God, that they may never perish, 
and that they have already been favoured with the first-fruits 
of the Spirit, which make certain their hope of the eternal 
inheritance. Though they enjoy not as yet the promised 
glory of heaven, at the same time, being content with the 
measure which they have obtained, they are never without 
reasons for joy. 

So I myself, &c. A short epilogue, in which he teaches 
us, that the faithful never reach the goal of righteousness as 
long as they dwell in the flesh, but that they are running 
their course, until they put off the body. He again gives 
the name of mind, not to the rational part of the soul which 
philosophers extol, but to that which is illuminated by the 
Spirit of God, so that it understands and wills aright : for 
there is a mention made not of the understanding alone, but 
connected with it is the earnest desire of the heart. How- 
ever, by the exception he makes, he confesses, that he was 
devoted to God in such a manner, that while creeping on 
the earth he was defiled with many corruptions. This is a 
suitable passage to disprove the most pernicious dogma of 

1 There is a different reading for the first clause of this verse, xAi's T V 
Sit», " thanks to God," which, Griesbach says, is nearly equal to the received 
text ; and there are a few copies which have h x*? 1 ' xtitfou, " the grace of 
our Lord," &c. ; which presents a direct answer to the foregoing question : 
but a considerable number more have h x"-e's Tl " / $«««, "the grace of God," 
inc. ; which also gives an answer to the preceding question. But the safest 
way, when there is no strong reason from the context, is to follow what 
is mostly sanctioned by MSS. Taking then the received text, we shall 
find a suitable answer to the foregoing question, if we consider the verb 
used in the question to be here understood, a tiling not unusual; then the 
version would be, " I thank God, who will deliver me through Jesus Christ 
our Lord ;" not as Macknight renders the verb, " who delivers me ;" for 
the answer must be in the same tense with the question. — Ed. 


the Purists, (Catharorum,) which some turbulent spirits at- 
tempt to revive at the present day. 1 


1 . There is therefore now no con- 1 . Nulla igitur condemnatio est 
demnation to them which are in iis qui sunt in Christo Iesu, qui non 
Christ Jesus, who walk not after the secundum camera ambulant, sed se- 
flesh, but after the Spirit. 2 cundum Spiritum. 

2. For the law of the Spirit of 2. Lex enim Spiritus vitse in 
life in Christ Jesus hath made me Christo Iesu, liberum me reddidit a 
free from the law of sin and death. lege peccati et mortis. 

3. For what the law could not do, 3: Quod enim impossibile erat 
in that it was weak through the Legi, eo quod infirniabatur per car- 
flesh, God sending his own Son in nem, misso Deus Filio suo in simili- 
the likeness of sinful flesh, and for tudine carnis peccati, etiam de pec- 
sin condemned sin in the flesh ; cato damnavit peccatum in carne ; 

4. That the righteousness of the 4. Ut justificatio Legis impleretur 
law might be fulfilled ha us, who in nobis qui non secundum carnem 
walk not after the flesh, but after ambulamus, sed secundum Spiritum. 
the Spirit. 

1. There is then, &c. After having described the contest 
which the godly have perpetually with their own flesh, he 
returns to the consolation, which was very needful for them, 
and which he had before mentioned ; and it was this, — That 
though they were still beset by sin, they were yet exempt 
from the power of death, and from every curse, provided they 
lived not in the flesh but in the Spirit : for he joins together 
these three things, — the imperfection under which the faith- 
ful always labour, — the mercy of God in pardoning and for- 

1 " Idem ego — the same I," or, " I the same ;" aLro; lya. Beza renders 
it the same — " idem ego," and makes this remark, " This was suitable to 
what follows, by which one man seems to have been divided into two." 
Others render it, " ipse ego — I myself," and say that Paul used this dic- 
tion emphatically, that none might suspect that he spoke in the person of 
another. See ch. ix. 3 ; 2 Cor. x. 1, 12, 13. The phrase imports this, 
" It is I myself, and none else.". 

He terms his innate sin " the flesh." By the flesh, says Parens, " is 
not meant physically the muscular substance, but theologically the de- 
pravity of nature, — not sensuality alone, but the unregenerated reason, 
will, and affections." — Ed. 

2 This clause, "who walk not," &c, is regarded as spurious by Gries- 
bach: a vast preponderance of authority as to MSS. is against it; and its 
proper place seems to be at the end of the fourth verse. It being placed 
here does not, however, interfere with the meaning. — Ed. 


giving it, — and the regeneration of the Spirit ; and this 
indeed in the last place, that no one should natter himself 
with a vain notion, as though he were freed from the curse, 
while securely indulging in the meantime his own flesh. As 
then the carnal man flatters himself in vain, when in no way 
solicitous to reform his life, he promises to himself impunity 
under the pretence of having this grace ; so the trembling 
consciences of the godly have an invincible fortress, for they 
know that while they abide in Christ they are beyond every 
danger of condemnation. We shall now examine the words. 
After the Spirit. Those who walk after the Spirit are not 
such as have wholly put off all the emotions of the flesh, so 
that their whole life is redolent with nothing but celes- 
tial perfection ; but they are those who sedulously labour to 
subdue and mortify the flesh, so that the love of true reli- 
gion seems to reign in them. He declares that such walk 
not after the flesh ; for wherever the real fear of God is 
vigorous, it takes away from the flesh its sovereignty, though 
it does not abolish all its corruptions. 

2. For the law of the Spirit of life, &c. This is a confir- 
mation of the former sentence ; and that it may be under- 
stood, the meaning of the words must be noticed. Using a 
language not strictly correct, by the law of the Spirit he 
designates the Spirit of God, who sprinkles our souls with 
the blood of Christ, not only to cleanse us from the stain of 
sin with respect to its guilt, but also to sanctify us that we 
may be really purified. He adds that it is life-giving, (for 
the genitive case, after the manner of the Hebrew, is to be 
taken as an adjective,) it hence follows, that they who de- 
tain man in the letter of the law, expose him to death. On 
the other hand, he gives the name of the law of sin and 
death to the dominion of the flesh and to the tyranny of 
death, which thence follows: the law of God is set as it 
were in the middle, which by teaching righteousness cannot 
confer it, but on the contrary binds us with ^he strongest 
chains in bondage to sin and to death. 

The meaning then is, — that the law of God condemns 
men, and that this happens, because as long as they remain 
under the bond of the law, they are oppressed with the 


bondage of sin, and are thus exposed to deatli ; but that the 
Spirit of Christ, while it abolishes the law of sin in us by 
destroying the prevailing desires of the flesh, does at the 
same time deliver us from the peril of death. If any one 
objects and says, that then pardon, by which our transgres- 
sions are buried, depends on regeneration ; to this it may be 
easily answered, that the reason is not here assigned by 
Paul, but that the manner only is specified, in which we are 
delivered from guilt ; and Paul denies that we obtain de- 
liverance by the external teaching of the law, but intimates 
that when we are renewed by the Spirit of God, we are at 
the same time justified by a gratuitous pardon, that the 
curse of sin may no longer abide on us. The sentence then 
has the same meaning, as though Paul had said, that the 
grace of regeneration is never disjoined from the imputation 
of righteousness. 

I dare not, with some, take the law of sin and death for 
the law of God, because it seems a harsh expression. For 
though by increasing sin it generates death, yet Paul before 
turned aside designedly from this invidious language. At 
the same time I no more agree in opinion with those who 
explain the law of sin as being the lust of the flesh, as though 
Paul had said, that he had become the conqueror of it. But 
it will appear very evident shortly, as I think, that he speaks 
of a gratuitous absolution, which brings to us tranquillizing 
peace with God. I prefer retaining the word law, rather 
than with Erasmus to render it right or power : for Paul 
did not without reason allude to the law of God. 1 

1 Calvin has, in his exposition of this verse, followed Chrysostom, and 
the same view has been taken by Bcza, Grotius, Vitringa, Doddridge, 
Scott, and Chalmers. But Parens, following Ambrose, has taken another 
view, which Haldane has strongly advocated, and with considerable power 
of reasoning, though, as some may perhaps think, unsuccessfully. The 
exposition is this, — " The law of the spirit of life" is the law of faith, or 
the gospel, which is the ministration of the Spirit ; and " the spirit of life" 
means either the life-giving spirit, or the spirit which conveys the life 
which is in Christ Jesus. Then " the law of sin and death" is the moral 
law, so called because it discloses sin and denounces death. It is said that 
this view corresponds with the " no condemnation " in the first verse, and 
with the word " law " in the verse which follows, which is no doubt the 
moral law, and with the truth which the verse exhibits. It is also added 
that freedom or deliverance from the law of sin, viewed as the power of 


3. For what was impossible for the law, &c. Now follows 
the polishing or the adorning of his proof, that the Lord has 
by his gratuitous mercy justified us in Christ ; the very thing 
which it was impossible for the law to do. But as this is a 
very remarkable sentence, let us examine every part of it. 

That he treats here of free justification or of the pardon 
by which God reconciles us to himself, we may infer from 
the last clause, when he adds, who walk not according to the 
flesh, but according to the Spirit. For if Paul intended to 
teach us, that we are prepared by the spirit of regeneration 
to overcome sin, why was this addition made ? But it was 
very proper for him, after having promised gratuitous re- 
mission to the faithful, to confine this doctrine to those who 
join penitence to faith, and turn not the mercy of God so as 
to promote the licentiousness of the flesh. And then the 
state of the case must be noticed ; for the Apostle teaches 
us here how the grace of Christ absolves us from guilt. 

Now as to the expression, to dSvvarov, the impossibility of 
the law, it is no doubt to be taken for defect or impotency ; 
as though it had been said, that a remedy had been found 
by God, by which that which was an impossibility to the law 
is removed. The particle, ev a>, Erasmus has rendered " ea 
parte qua — in that part in which ;" but as I think it to be 
causal, I prefer rendering it, " eo quod — because :" and 
though perhaps such a phrase does not occur among good 
authors in the Greek language, yet as the Apostles every- 
where adopt Hebrew modes of expression, this interpreta- 
tion ought not to be deemed improper. 1 No doubt intelli- 
gent readers will allow, that the cause of defect is what is 

sin, is inconsistent with the latter part of the former chapter; and that 
the law of faith, which through the Spirit conveys life, makes us free from 
the moral law as the condition of life, is the uniform teaching of Paul. 
" This freedom," says Parens, " is ascribed to God, to Christ, and to the 
Gospel, — to God as the author, chap. vii. 2.5, — to Christ as the mediator, 
— and to the Gospel as the instrument : and the manner of this deliver- 
ance is more clearly explained in the verse which follows." 

1 Calvin is not singular in this rendering;. Parents and Grotius give 
" quia vel quandoquidem — because or since ;" and the latter says, that 
" $ is an Hebraism for l<f>' $; see chap. v. 12. Jieza refers to Mark ii. 19, 
and Luke v. 34, as instances where it means when or while, and says that 
it is used in Greek to designate not only a certain time, but also a certain 
state or condition, l'isrator's rendering is " eo quod— because." — Ed. 


here expressed, as we shall shortly prove again. Now though 
Erasmus supplies the principal verb, jet the text seems to 
me to flow better without it. The copulative real, and, has 
led Erasmus astray, so as to insert the verb prcestitit — hath 
jjerfonned ; but I think that it is used for the sake of em- 
phasis ; except it may be, that some will approve of the 
conjecture of a Grecian scholiast, who connects the clause 
thus with the preceding words, " God sent his own Son in 
the likeness of the flesh of sin and on account of sin/' &c. I 
have however followed what I have thought to be the real 
meaning of Paul. I come now to the subject itself. 1 

Paul clearly declares that our sins were expiated by the 
death of Christ, because it was impossible for the law to 
confer righteousness upon us. It hence follows, that more 
is required by the law than what we can perform ; for if we 
were capable of fulfilling the law there would have been no 

1 The beginning of this verse, though the general import of it is evident, 
does yet present some difficulties as to its construction. The clause, as 
given by Calvin, is, " Quod enim impossibile erat legi," — ™ yag oUvvarov 
rou voftov. Parens supposes ?<« understood, " For on account of the im- 
potency of the law," &c. Stuart agrees with Erasmus and Luther, and 
supplies the verb " did," or accomplish, — " For what the law could not 
accomplish... God... accomplished," &c. But the simpler construction 
is, " For this," (that is, freedom from the power of sin and death, men- 
tioned in the former verse,) " being impossible for the law," &c. It is 
an instance of the nominative case absolute, which sometimes occurs in 
Hebrew. The possessive case, as Grotius says, has often the meaning of 
a dative after adjectives, as " malum hominis" is " malum homini — evil 
to man." The ™ has sometimes the meaning of touto ; it is separated by 
y«.g from the adjective. Some say that it is for »« yv.g, " Because it was 
impossible for the law," &c. But changes of this kind are never satisfac- 
tory. The rendering of the whole verse may be made thus. — 

3. For this being impossible for the law, because it was weak through 
the flesh, God having sent his own Son in the likeness of sinful 
flesh and on account of sin, has condemned sin in the flesh. 
God sent his Son in that flesh which was polluted by sin, though his 
Son's flesh, i.e. human nature, was sinless; and he sent him on account of 
that sin which reigned in human nature or flesh ; and for this end — to con- 
demn, i.e., to doom to ruin, to adjudge to destruction, the sin which ruled 
in the flesh, i.e., in human nature as fallen and corrupted. This seems to 
be the meaning. Then in the following verse the design of this condemna- 
tion of sin is stated — that the righteousness of the law, or what the law 
requires, might be done by us. Without freedom from the power of sin, 
no service can be done to God. It is the destruction of the power of sin, 
and not the removal of guilt, that is contemplated here throughout ; the 
text of the whole passage is walking after the flesh and walking after the 
Spirit. — Ed. 


need to seek a remedy elsewhere. It is therefore absurd to 
measure human strength by the precepts of the law ; as 
though God in requiring what is justly due, had regarded 
what and how much we are able to do. 

Because it was weak, &c. That no one might think that 
the law was irreverently charged with weakness, or confine 
it to ceremonies, Paul has distinctly expressed that this 
defect was not owing to any fault in the law, but to the cor- 
ruption of our flesh ; for it must be allowed that if any one 
really satisfies the divine law, he will be deemed just before 
God. He does not then deny that the law is sufficient to 
justify us as to doctrine, inasmuch as it contains a perfect 
rule of righteousness : but as our flesh does not attain that 
righteousness, the whole power of the law fails and vanishes 
away. Thus condemned is the error or rather the delirious 
notion of those who imagine that the power of justifying 
is only taken away from ceremonies ; for Paul, by laying 
the blame expressly on us, clearly shows that he found no 
fault with the doctrine of the law. 

But further, understand the weakness of the law according 
to the sense in which the Apostle usually takes the word 
aaOeveta, weakness, not only as meaning a small imbecility 
but impotency ; for he means that the law has no power 
whatever to justify. 1 You then see that we are wholly ex- 
cluded from the righteousness of works, and must therefore 
flee to Christ for righteousness, for in us there can be none, 
and to know this is especially necessary ; for we shall never 
be clothed with the righteousness of Christ except we first 
know assuredly that Ave have no righteousness of our own. 
The word flesh is to be taken still in the same sense, as 
meaning ourselves. The corruption then of our nature ren- 
ders the law of God in this respect useless to us ; for while 
it shows the way of life, it does not bring us back who are 
running headlong into death. 

God having sent his own Son, &c. He now points out the 
way in which our heavenly Father has restored righteous- 

1 The adjective to aa-hvis is applied to the commandment in Ileb. vii. 
] 8. " Impotent, inefficacious," are the terms used by Grotius ; " destitute 
of strength," by Dcza ; and " weak," by Erasmus. — Ed. 


ness to us by his Son, even by condemning sin in the very 
flesh of Christ ; who by cancelling as it were the handwrit- 
ing, abolished sin, which held us bound before God ; for the 
condemnation of sin made us free and brought us righteous- 
ness, for sin being blotted out we are absolved, so that God 
counts us as just. But he declares first that Christ was sent, 
in order to remind us that righteousness by no means dwells 
in us, for it is to be sought from him, and that men in vain 
confide in their own merits, who become not just but at the 
pleasure of another, or who borrow righteousness from that 
expiation which Christ accomplished in his own flesh. But 
he says, that he came in the likeness of the flesh of sin ; for 
though the flesh of Christ was polluted by no stains, yet it 
seemed apparently to be sinful, inasmuch as it sustained the 
punishment due to our sins, and doubtless death exercised 
all its power over it as though it was subject to itself. And 
as it behoved our High-priest to learn by his own experience 
how to aid the weak, Christ underwent our infirmities, that 
he might be more inclined to sympathy, and in this respect 
also there appeared some resemblance of a sinful nature. 

Even for sin, &c. I have already said that this is explained 
by some as the cause or the end for which God sent his own 
Son, that is, to give satisfaction for sin. Chrysostorn and 
many after him understood it in a still harsher sense, even 
that sin was condemned for sin, and for this reason, because 
it assailed Christ unjustly and beyond what was right. I 
indeed allow that though he was just and innocent, he yet 
underwent punishment for sinners, and that the price of 
redemption was thus j)aid ; but I cannot be brought to think 
that the word sin is put here in any other sense than that 
of an expiatory sacrifice, which is called D^i*s, ashem, in 
Hebrew, 1 and so the Greeks call a sacrifice to which a curse 

1 The reference had better been made to DXtSn, a sin-offering, so called 
because KEfl, sin, was imputed to what was offered, and it was accepted as 
an atonement. See Lev. i. 4 ; iv. 3, 4, 15 ; xvi. 21. See also Ex. xxx. 10. 
The Sepiuaaint adopted the same manner, and rendered sin-offering in 
many instances by dftugria, sin ; and Paul has done the same in 2 Cor. v. 
21 ; Heb. ix. 28. That " sin" should have two different meanings in the 
same verse or in the same clause, is what is perfectly consonant to the 
Apostle's manner of writing ; he seems to delight in this kind of contrast 
in meaning while using the same words, depending on the context as to the 


is annexed tcaQap^ia, catharma. The same thing is declared 
by Paul in 2 Cor. v. 21, when he says, that " Christ, who 
knew no sin, was made sin for us, that we might become the 
righteousness of God in him." But the preposition irepi, 
peri, is to be taken here in a causative sense, as though he 
had said, " On account of that sacrifice, or through the 
burden of sin being laid on Christ, sin was cast down from 
its power, so that it does not hold us now subject to itself." 
For using a metaphor, he says that it was condemned, like 
those who fail in their cause ; for God no longer deals with 
those as guilty who have obtained absolution through the 
sacrifice of Christ. If we say that the kingdom of sin, in 
which it held us, was demolished, the meaning would be the 
same. And thus what was ours Christ took as his own, that 
lie might transfer his own to us ; for he took our curse, and 
has freely granted us his blessing. 

Paul adds here, In the flesh, and for this end, — that by 
seeing sin conquered and abolished in our very nature, our 

explanation. He uses the word hope both in this chapter and in chap. iv. 
18, in this way. And this is not peculiar to Paul ; it is what we observe 
in all parts of Scripture, both in the New and in the Old Testament. A 
striking instance of this, as to the word " life," ^vx^, is found in Matt. xvi. 
25, 26, in the last verse it is rendered improperly " soul." 

Fully admitting all this, I still think that " sin" here is to be taken in 
its common meaning, only personified. Beza connects *t(" dftag-ria; with 
the preceding clause, " God having sent his own Son in the likeness of sin- 
ful flesh, and that for or on account of sin, (idquc pro pcccato,)" &c, that 
is, as he explains, for expiating or taking away sin. "A sin-offering" may 
indeed be its meaning, for the same expression is often used in this sense 
in the Septuagint. See Lev. v. 7, 9, 11 ; Ps. xl. 6. 

The sense of taking away strength, or depriving of power or authority, 
or of destroying, or of abolishing, does not belong, says Schlewner, to the 
verb ««ra^jm/y, to condemn ; he renders it here " punished — punivit," that 
is, God adjudged to sin the punishment due to it. The meaning is made 
to be the same as when it is said, that God " laid on him the iniquities of 
us all." 

By taking a view of the whole passage, from chap. vii. 24 to chap. viii. 
5, for the whole of this is connected, and by noticing the phraseology, we 
shall probably conclude that the power of sin and not its guilt is the sub- 
ject treated of. "Law" here is used for a ruling power, for that which 
exercises authority and ensures obedience. " The law of sin," is the ruling- 
power of sin ; " the law of the Spirit of life," is the power of the Spirit the 
author of life; "the law of death," is the power which death exercises. 
Then "walking after the flesh" is to live in subjection to the flesh : as 
"walking after the Spirit" is to live in subjection to him. All these 
tilings have a reference to the power and not to ihv </uill of sin. The same 
subject is continued from chap. viii. 5 to the 15th verse. — Ed. 


confidence might be more certain : for it thus follows, that 
our nature is really become a partaker of his victory ; and 
this is what he presently declares. 

4. That the justification of the law might be fulfilled, &c. 
They who understand that the renewed, by the Spirit of 
Christ, fulfil the law, introduce a gloss wholly alien to the 
meaning of Paul ; for the faithful, while they sojourn in this 
world, never make such a proficiency, as that the justifica- 
tion of the law becomes in them full or complete. This then 
must be applied to forgiveness ; for when the obedience of 
Christ is accepted for us, the law is satisfied, so that we are 
counted just. For the perfection which the law demands 
was exhibited in our flesh, and for this reason — that its 
rigour should no longer have the power to condemn us. But 
as Christ communicates his righteousness to none but to 
those whom he joins to himself by the bond of his Spirit, the 
work of renewal is again mentioned, lest Christ should be 
thought to be the minister of sin : for it is the inclination of 
many so to apply whatever is taught respecting the paternal 
kindness of God, as to encourage the lasciviousness of the 
flesh : and some malignantly slander this doctrine, as though 
it extinguished the desire to live uprightly. 1 

5. For they that are after the flesh 5. Qui enim secundum carnem 

do mind the things of the flesh ; but sunt, ea quae carnis sunt cogitant ; 

they that are after the Spirit the qui vero secundum Spiritum, ea quae 

things of the Spirit. sunt Spiritus. 

1 Commentators are divided as to the meaning of this verse. This 
and the second verse seem to hear a relation in sense to one another ; so 
that if the second verse refers to justification, this also refers to it ; but if 
freedom from the power oi' sin and death be what is taught in the former 
verse, the actual or personal fulfilment of the law must be what is intended 
here. Some, such as Pareus and Vencma, consider justification to be the 
subject of both verses ; and others, such as Scott and Doddridge, consider 
it to be sanctification. But Beza, Chalmers, as well as Calvin, somewhat 
inconsistently, regard the second verse as speaking of freedom from the 
power or dominion of sin, and not from its guilt or condemnation, and this 
verse as speaking of the imputed righteousness of Christ, and not of that 
righteousness which believers are enabled to perform by the Spirit's aid 
and influence. The verses seem so connected in the argument, that one 
of these two ideas must be held throughout. 

There is nothing decisive in the wording of this verse, though the cast of 
the expressions seems more favourable to the idea entertained by Dod- 
dridge and Scott, and especially what follows in the context, where the 
work of the Spirit is exclusively spoken of. The word 'htx.a.wp.a, is better 


6. For to be carnally minded is 6. Cogitatio certe carnis, mors 
death : but to be spiritually minded est ; cogitatio autem Spiritus, vita 
is life and peace : et pax : 

7. Because the carnal mind is en- 7. Quandoquidem cogitatio car- 
mity against God : for it is not sub- nis, inimicitia est adversus Deum ; 
ject to the law of God, neither in- nam Legi Dei non subjicitur, nee 
deed can be. enim potest. 

8. So then they that are in the 8. Qui ergo in came sunt, Deo 
flesh cannot please God. placere non possunt. 

5. For they who are after the flesh, &c. He introduces 
this difference between the flesh and the Spirit, not only to 
confirm, by an argument derived from what is of an opposite 
character, what he has before mentioned, — that the grace of 
Christ belongs to none but to those who, having been rege- 
nerated by the Spirit, strive after purity ; but also to relieve 
the faithful with a seasonable consolation, lest being con- 
scious of many infirmities, they should despair : for as he 
had exempted none from the curse, but those who lead a 
spiritual life, he might seem to cut off from all mortals the 
hope of salvation ; for who in this world can be found adorned 
with so much angelic purity so as to be wholly freed from 
the flesh ? It was therefore necessary to define what it is to 
be in the flesh, and to walk after the flesh. At first, indeed, 
Paul does not define the distinction so very precisely ; but 
yet we shall see as we proceed, that his object is to afford 
good hope to the faithful, though they are bound to their 
flesh ; only let them not give loose reins to its lusts, but 
give themselves up to be guided by the Holy Spirit. 

rendered "righteousness" than "justification;" for " the righteousness of 
the law " means the righteousness which the law requires ; and the words, 
" might be fulfilled in us," may, with equal propriety as to the mus loqueii- 
di, be rendered, " might be performed by us." The verb vrXntfw has this 
meaning in chap. xiii. 8, and in other places. 

Viewed in this light the verse contains the same truth with what is ex- 
pressed by " serving the law of God," in chap. vii. 25, and the same with 
yielding our members as " instruments of righteousness unto God," in chap, 
vi. 13. That this is to establish a justification by the law, is obviated by 
the consideration, that this righteousness is performed through the efficacy 
of Christ's death, and through the reviving power of the Spirit, and not 
through the law, and that it is not a justifying righteousness before God, 
for it is imperfect, and the law can acknowledge nothing as righteousness 
but what is perfect. The sanctification now begun will be finally com- 
pleted; but it is all through grace : and the completion of this work will 
be a complete conformity with the immutable law of God. — Ed. 


By saying that carnal men care for, or think upon, the 
things of the flesh, he shows that he did not count those as 
carnal who aspire after celestial righteousness, but those 
who wholly devote themselves to the world. I have ren- 
dered (ppovovcrtv by a word of large meaning, cogitant — think, 
that readers may understand that those only are excluded 
from being the children of God who, being given to the 
allurements of the flesh, apply their minds and study to de- 
praved lusts. 1 Now, in the second clause he encourages the 
faithful to entertain good hope, provided they find that they 
are raised up by the Spirit to the meditation of righteousness : 
for wherever the Spirit reigns, it is an evidence of the saving 
grace of God ; as the grace of God does not exist where the 
Spirit being extinguished the reign of the flesh prevails. 
But I will briefly repeat here what I have reminded you of 
before, — That to be in the flesh, or, after the flesh, is the same 
thing as to be without the gift of regeneration : 2 and such 
are all they who continue, as they commonly say, in pure 
naturals, (puris naturalibus.) 

6. The minding of the flesh, &c. Erasmns has rendered 
it " affection," {affectum;) the old translator, " prudence," 
(prudentiam.) But as it is certain that the to cppovvfia of 
Paul is the same with what Moses calls the imagination 
{figmentum — devising) of the heart, (Gen. vi. 5 ;) and that 
under this word are included all the faculties of the soul — 
reason, understanding, and affections, it seems to me that 
minding (cogitatio — thinking, imagining, caring) is a more 

1 The verb tp^ovia, as Leigh justly says, includes the action of the mind, 
will, and affections, but mostly in Scripture it expresses the action of the 
will and affections. It means to understand, to desire, and to relish or de- 
light in a thing. It is rendered here by Erasmus and Vatablus, " curant — 
care for ;" by Beza, Parens, and the Vulgate, " sapiunt — relish or savour ;" 
by Doddridge and Macknight, " mind," as in our version ; and by Stuart, 
" concern themselves with." It evidently means attention, regard, pursuit 
and delight, — the act of the will and affections, rather than that of the 

" The verb," says Turrettin, " means not only to think of, to understand, 
to attend to a thing ; but also to mind it, to value it, and to take great 
delight in it." — Ed. 

2 Jerome says, that to be in the flesh is to be in a married state ! How 
superstition perverts the mind ! and then the perverted mind perverts the 
word of God. — Ed. 


suitable word. 1 And though Paul uses the particle yap — 
for, yet I doubt not but that is only a simple confirmative : 
for there is here a kind of concession ; for after having 
briefly defined what it is to be in the flesh, he now subjoins 
the end that awaits all who are slaves to the flesh. Thus by 
stating the contrary effect, he proves, that they cannot be 
partakers of the favour of Christ, who abide in the flesh, for 
through the whole course of their life they proceed and has- 
ten unto death. 

This passage deserves special notice ; for we hence learn, 
that we, while following the course of nature, rush headlong 
into death ; for we, of ourselves, contrive nothing but what 
ends in ruin. But he immediately adds another clause, to 
teach us, that if anything in us tends to life, it is what the 
Spirit produces ; for no spark of life proceeds from our flesh. 

The minding of the Spirit he calls life, for it is life-giving, 
or leads to life ; and by peace he designates, after the man- 
ner of the Hebrews, every kind of happiness ; for whatever 
the Spirit of God works in us tends to our felicity. There 
is, however, no reason why any one should on this account 
attribute salvation to works ; for though God begins our 
salvation, and at length completes it by renewing us after 
his own image ; } r et the only cause is his good pleasure, 
whereby he makes us partakers of Christ. 

7. Because the minding of the flesh, 2 &c. He subjoins a 

1 It is difficult to find a word to express the idea here intended. It is 
evident that to pganj^a rm fu^xos is the abstract of " minding the things of 
the flesh," in the preceding verse. The mindedness, rather than the mind- 
ing of the flesh, would be most correct. But the phrase is no doubt He- 
braistic, the adjective is put as a noun in the genitive case, so that its right 
version is, "The carnal mind;" and "mind" is to be taken in the wide 
sense of the verb, as including the whole soul, understanding, will, and 
affections. The phrase is thus given in the next verse in our version : and 
it is the most correct rendering. The mind of the flesh is its thoughts, 
desires, likings, and delight. This carnal mind is death, i.e., spiritual 
death now, leading to that which is eternal ; or death, as being under con- 
demnation, and producing wretchedness and misery : it is also enmity to- 
wards God, including in its very spirit hatred and antipathy to God. On 
the other hand, "the spiritual mind" is "life," i.e., a divine life, a living 
principle of holiness, accompanied with " peace," which is true happiness ; 
or life by justification, and "peace" with God as the fruit of it. 

The word (p^ov^a is only found in one other place, in verse 27th of this 
chapter, — " the mind," wish, or desire " of the Spirit." — Ed. 

" The order which t*he Apostle observes ought to be noticed. He be- 


proof of what he had stated, — that nothing proceeds from 
the efforts of our flesh but death, because it contends as an 
enemy against the will of God. Now the will of God is the 
rule of righteousness ; it hence follows, that whatever is un- 
just is contrary to it ; and what is unjust at the same time 
brings death. But while God is adverse, and is offended, in 
vain does any one expect life ; for his wrath must be neces- 
sarily followed by death, which is the avenging of his wrath. 

But let us observe here, that the will of man is in all 
things opposed to the divine will ; for, as much as what is 
crooked differs from what is straight, so much must be the 
difference between us and God. 

For to the laiv of God, &c. This is an explanation of the 
former sentence ; and it shows how all the thinkings (medi- 
tationes) of the flesh carry on war against the will of God ; 
for his will cannot be assailed but where he has revealed it. 
In the law God shows what pleases him : hence they who 
wish really to find out how far they agree with God must 
test all- their purposes and practices by this rule. For 
though nothing is done in this world, except by the secret 
governing providence of God ; yet to say, under this pre- 
text, that nothing is done but what he approves, (nihil nisi 
eo approbante fieri,) is intolerable blasphemy ; and on this 
subject some fanatics are wrangling at this day. The law 
has set the difference between right and wrong plainly and 
distinctly before our eyes, and to seek it in a deep labyrinth, 
what sottishness is it ! The Lord has indeed, as I have said, 
his hidden counsel, by which he regulates all things as he 
pleases ; but as it is incomprehensible to us, let us know 
that we are to refrain from too curious an investigation of 
it. Let this in the mean time remain as a fixed principle, — 
that nothing pleases him but righteousness, and also, that 
no right estimate can be made of our works but by the law, 
in which he has faithfully testified what he approves and 

gins in ver. 5, or at the end of ver. 4, with two characters — the carnal 
and the spiritual, He takes the carnal first, because it is the first as to 
us in order of time. And here he does not reverse the order, as he some- 
times does, when the case admits it, hut goes on first with the carnal man, 
and then, in ver. 9 to 11, he describes the spiritual. — Ed. 


Nor can be. Behold the power of free-will ! which the 
Sophists cannot cany high enough. Doubtless, Paul affirms 
here, in express words, what they openly detest, — that it is 
impossible for us to render our powers subject to the law. 
They boast that the heart can turn to either side, provided 
it be aided by the influence of the Spirit, and that a free 
choice of good or evil is in our power, when the Spirit only 
brings help ; but it is ours to choose or refuse. They also 
imagine some good emotions, by which we become of our- 
selves prepared. Paul, on the contrary, declares, that the 
heart is full of hardness and indomitable contumacy, so that 
it is never moved naturally to undertake the yoke of God ; 
nor does he speak of this or of that faculty, but speaking 
indefinitely, he throws into one bundle all the emotions 
which arise within us. 1 Far, then, from a Christian heart 
be this heathen philosophy respecting the liberty of the will. 
Let every one acknowledge himself to be the servant of sin, 
as he is in reality, that he may be made free, being set at 
liberty by the grace of Christ : to glory in any other liberty 
is the highest folly. 

8. They then who are in the flesh, &c. It is not without 
reason that I have rendered the adversative Se as an illative : 
for the Apostle infers from what had been said, that those 
who give themselves up to be guided by the lusts of the 

1 Stuart attempts to evade this conclusion, but rather in an odd way. 
The whole amount, as he seems to say, of what the Apostle declares, is that 
this <p{ovypa a-a^Kos itself is not subject, and cannot be, to the law of God ; 
but whether the sinner who cherishes it " is actuated by other principles and 
motives," the expression, he says, does not seem satisfactorily to determine. 
Hence he stigmatizes with the name of " metaphysical reasoning " the 
doctrine of man's moral inability, without divine grace, to turn to God — a 
doctrine which Luther, Calvin, and our own Reformers equally maintained. 
The Apostle does not only speak abstractedly, but he applies what he ad- 
vances to individuals, and concludes by saying, " So then they that are in 
the flesh cannot please God." Who and what can bring them out of this 
state ? The influence of " other principles and motives," or the grace of 
God ? This is no metaphysical question, and the answer to it determines 
the point. Our other American brother, Barnes, seems also to deprecate 
this doctrine of moral inability, and makes distinctions to no purpose, 
attempting to separate the carnal mind from him in whom it exists, as 
though man could be in a neutral state, neither in the flesh nor in the 
Spirit. " It is an expression," as our third American brother, Hodge, 
justly observes, " applied to all unrenewed persons, as those who are not 
in the flesh are in the Spirit." — Ed. 


flesh, are all of them abominable before God ; and he has 
thus far confirmed this truth, — that all who walk not after 
the Spirit are alienated from Christ, for they are without 
any spiritual life. 

9. But ye are not in the flesh, but 9. Vos autem non estis in carne, 
in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit sed in Spiritu, siquidem Spiritus 
of God dwell in you. Now, if any Dei habitat in vobis : si quis vero 
man have not the Spirit of Christ, Spiritum Christi non habet, hie non 
he is none of his. est ejus. 

10. And if Christ be in you, the 10. Si vero Christus in vobis est, 
body is dead because of sin : but the corpus quidem mortuum est propter 
Spirit is life because of righteous- peccatum, Spiritus autem vita est 
ness. propter justitiam. 

11. But if the Spirit of him that 11. Si inquam Spiritus ejus qui 
raised up Jesus from the dead dwell suscitavit Iesum ex mortuis, habitat 
in you, he that raised up Christ from in vobis, qui suscitavit Christum ex 
the dead shall also quicken your mortuis, vivificabit et mortalia cor- 
mortal bodies by his Spirit that pora propter Spiritum suum in vobis 
dwelleth in you. habitantem. 

9. But ye, &c. He applies hypothetically a general truth 
to those to whom he was writing ; not only that by directing 
his discourse to them particularly he might more powerfully 
affect them, but also that they might with certainty gather 
from the description already given, that they were of the 
number of those, from whom Christ had taken away the 
curse of the law. Yet, at the same time, by explaining 
what the Spirit of God works in the elect, and what fruit 
he brings forth, he encourages them to strive after newness 
of life. 

If indeed the Spirit of God, &c. This qualifying sentence 
is fitly subjoined, by which they were stirred up to examine 
themselves more closely, lest they should profess the name 
of Christ in vain. And it is the surest mark by which the 
children of God are distinguished from the children of the 
world, when by the Spirit of God they are renewed unto 
purity and holiness. It seems at the same time to have 
been his purpose, not so much to detect hypocrisy, as to 
suggest reasons for glorying against the absurd zealots of the 
law, who esteem the dead letter of more importance than the 
inward power of the Spirit, who gives life to the law. 

But this passage shows, that what Paul lias hitherto meant 
by the Spirit, is not the mind or understanding (which is 



called the superior part of the soul by the advocates of free- 
will) but a celestial gift; for he shows that those are spiritual, 
not such as obey reason through their own will, but such as 
God rules by his Spirit. Nor are they yet said to be accord- 
ing to the Spirit, because they are filled with God's Spirit, 
(which is now the case with none,) but because they have 
the Spirit dwelling in them, though they find some remains 
of the flesh still remaining in them : at the same time it 
cannot dwell in them without having the superiority ; for it 
must be observed that man's state is known by the power 
that bears rule in him. 

But if any have not the Spirit of Christ, &c. He subjoins 
this to show how necessary in Christians is the denial of the 
flesh. The reign of the Spirit is the abolition of the flesh. 
Those in whom the Spirit reigns not, belong not to Christ ; 
then they are not Christians who serve the flesh ; for they 
who separate Christ from his own Spirit make him like a 
dead image or a carcase. And we must always bear in mind 
what the Apostle has intimated, that gratuitous remission of 
sins can never be separated from the Spirit of regeneration ; 
for this would be as it were to rend Christ asunder. 

If this be true, it is strange that we are accused of arro- 
gance by the adversaries of the gospel, because we dare to 
avow that the Spirit of Christ dwells in us : for we must 
either deny Christ, or confess that we become Christians 
through his Spirit. It is indeed dreadful to hear that men 
have so departed from the word of the Lord, that they not 
only vaunt that they are Christians without God's Spirit, 
but also ridicule the faith of others : but such is the philo- 
sophy of the Papists. 

But let readers observe here, that the Spirit is, without 
any distinction, called sometimes the Spirit of God the 
Father, and sometimes the Spirit of Christ ; and thus called, 
not only because his whole fulness was poured on Christ as 
our Mediator and head, so that from him a portion might 
descend on each of us, but also because he is equally the 
Spirit of the Father and of the Son, who have one essence, 
and the same eternal divinity. As, however, we have no 
intercourse with God except through Christ, the Apostle 


wisely descends to Christ from the Father, who seems to be 
far off. 

10. But if Christ be in us, &c. What he had before said 
of the Spirit he says now of Christ, in order that the mode 
of Christ's dwelling in us might be intimated ; for as by the 
Spirit he consecrates us as temples to himself, so by the same 
he dwells in us. But what we have before referred to, he now 
explains more fully — that the children of God are counted 
spiritual, not on the ground of a full and complete perfec- 
tion, but only on account of the newness of life that is begun 
in them. And he anticipates here an occasion of doubt, 
which might have otherwise disturbed us ; for though the 
Spirit possesses a part of us, we yet see another part still 
under the power of death. He then gives this answer — that 
the power of quickening is in the Spirit of Christ, which 
will be effectual in swallowing up our mortality. He hence 
concludes that we must patiently wait until the relics of sin 
be entirely abolished. 

Readers have been already reminded, that by the word 
Spirit they are not to understand the soul, but the Spirit of 
regeneration ; and Paul calls the Spirit life, not only because 
he lives and reigns in us, but also because he quickens us 
by his power, until at length, having destroyed the mortal 
flesh, he perfectly renews us. So, on the other hand, the 
word body signifies that gross mass which is not yet purified 
by the Spirit of God from earthly dregs, which delight in 
nothing but what is gross ; for it would be otherwise absurd 
to ascribe to the body the fault of sin : besides the soul is so 
far from being life that it does not of itself live. The mean- 
ing of Paul then is — that although sin adjudges us to death 
as far as the corruption of our first nature remains in us, yet 
that the Spirit of God is its conqueror : nor is it any hinder - 
ance, that we are only favoured with the first-fruits, for even 
one spark of the Spirit is the seed of life. 1 

1 There are mainly two explanations of this verse and the following, 
with some shades of difference. The one is given here ; according to which 
" the body," and "bodies," are taken figuratively for nature corrupted by 
sin ; the " body," as it is flesh, or corrupted, is " dead," is crucified, or 
doomed to die " on account of sin ;" and this " body," or these " bodies," 
which are mortal, and especially so as to their corruption, are to be quick- 


11. If the Spirit, &c. This is a confirmation of the last 
verse, derived from the efficient cause, and according to this 
sense, — " Since by the power of God's Spirit Christ was 
raised, and since the Spirit possesses eternal power, he will 
also exert the same with regard to us." And he takes it as 
granted, that in the person of Christ was exhibited a speci- 
men of the power which belongs to the whole body of the 
Church : and as he makes God the author of the resurrec- 
tion, he assigns to him a life-giving Spirit. 

Who raised, &c. By this periphrasis he describes God j 
which harmonizes better with his present object, than if he 
had called him simply by his own name. For the same 
reason he assigns to the Father the glory of raising Christ ; 
for it more clearly proved what he had in view, than if he 
had ascribed the act to Christ himself. For it might have 
been objected, "That Christ was able by his own power to 
raise up himself, and this is what no man can do." But 
when he says, that God raised up Christ by his Spirit, and 
that he also communicated his Spirit to us, there is nothing 
that can be alleged to the contrary ; so that he thus makes 

ened, revived, and made subservient to the will of God. It appears that 
this is essentially the view taken by Chrysostom, and also by Erasmus, 
Locke, Marckius, and by Stuart and Barnes. It is said that nxgov and 
Svvra have the same meaning with " crucified" and " destroyed," in ch. vi. 6, 
and "dead," in ch. vi. 7, 8, and "dead," in ch. vi. 11, and "mortal," in 
ch. vi. 12. And as to the meaning of Z,uovo'wu, " shall quicken," reference 
is made to Col. ii. 12, 13 ; Eph. i. 19, 20; ii. 5, 6. It is also added, that 
the words " mortify the deeds of the body," in verse 13, confirm this view. 

The other explanation, adopted by Augustine, and also by Pareus, 
Vitringa, Turrettin, Doddridge, Scott, Chalmers, Haldane, and Hodge, 
is the following, — The " body," and " bodies," are to be taken literally, 
and the spirit, in the 10th verse, is the renewed man, or the renewed soul, 
which has or possesses "life" through the righteousness of Christ, or is 
made to enjoy life through the righteousness implanted by the Spirit. The 
meaning then is this, " The body is dead through sin, is doomed to die 
because of sin ; but the spirit is life through righteousness, the soul re- 
newed has life through Christ's righteousness : but the dying body, now 
tabernacled by the Spirit, shall also be quickened and made immortal 
through the mighty power of the divine Spirit." Thus salvation shall be 
complete when the " redemption of the body " shall come. See verse 23. 

While the two views are theologically correct, the latter is that which 
is the most consonant with the usual phraseology of Scripture, though the 
former seems the most suitable to the context. The subject evidently is 
the work of the Spirit in mortifying sin, and in bestowing and sustain- 
ing spiritual life. The inference in the next verse seems favourable to 
this view. — Ed. 


sure to us the hope of resurrection. Nor is there anything 
here that derogates from that declaration in John, " I have 
power to lay down my life, and to take it up again/' (John 
x. 18.) No doubt Christ arose through his own power ; but 
as he is wont to attribute to the Father whatever Divine 
power he possesses, so the Apostle has not improperly trans- 
ferred to the Father Avhat was especially done by Christ, as 
the peculiar work of divinity. 

By mortal bodies he understands all those things which 
still remain in us, that are subject to death ; for his usual 
practice is to give this name to the grosser part of us. We 
hence conclude, that he speaks not of the last resurrection, 
which shall be in a moment, but of the continued working 
of the Spirit, by which he gradually mortifies the relics of 
the flesh and renews in us a celestial life. 

12. Therefore, brethren, we are 12. Itaque fratres, debitores su- 

debtors, not to the flesh, to live after mus, non carni, ut secundum car- 

the flesh. nem vivamus. 

IS. For if ye live after the flesh, 13. Si enim secundum carnem 

ye shall die : but if ye through the vixeritis, moriemini : si vero Spiri- 

Spirit do mortify the deeds of the tu facta carnis 1 mortificaveritis, vi- 

body, ye shall live. vetis. 

14. For as many as are led by the 14. Quicunque enim Spiritu Dei 

Spirit of God, they are the sons of aguntur, ii filii Dei sunt. 

12. So then, brethren, &c. This is the conclusion of what 
has been previously said ; for if we are to renounce the flesh, 
we ought not to consent to it ; and if the Spirit ought to 
reign in us, it is inconsistent not to attend to his bidding. 
Paul's sentence is here defective, for he omits the other part 
of the contrast, — that we are debtors to the Spirit ; but the 
meaning is in no way obscure. 2 This conclusion has the 
force of an exhortation ; for he is ever wont to draw exhor- 

1 "Deeds of the body" is our version; and the preponderance of autho- 
rity, according to Griesbach, is in its favour, though he admits that the 
other reading, rns tta^nh, is nearly equal to it, and deserves farther inquiry. 
— Ed. 

2 He did not mention the other part, says Parens, " because it was so 
evident." Besides, what he had already stated, and what he proceeds to 
state, are so many evidences of our obligations to live after the Spirit, that 
it was unnecessary to make such an addition. — Ed. 


tations from his doctrine. So in another place, Eph. iv. 30, 
he exhorts us " not to grieve the Spirit of God, by whom we 
have been sealed to the day of redemption :" he does the 
same in Gal. v. 25, " If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk 
in the Spirit." And this is the case, when we renounce 
carnal lusts, so as to devote ourselves, as those who are bound, 
to the righteousness of God. Thus indeed we ought to rea- 
son, not as some blasphemers are wont to do, who talk idly, 
and say, — that we must do nothing, because we have no 
power. But it is as it were to fight against God, when we 
extinguish the grace offered to us, by contempt and negli- 

13. For if ye will live after the flesh, &c. He adds a 
threatening, in order more effectually to shake off their 
torpor ; by which also they are fully confuted who boast of 
justification by faith without the Spirit of Christ, though 
they are more than sufficiently convicted by their own con- 
science ; for there is no confidence in God, where there is no 
love of righteousness. It is indeed true, that we are justified 
in Christ through the mercy of God alone ; but it is equally 
true and certain, that all who are justified are called by the 
Lord, that they may live worthy of their vocation. Let then 
the faithful learn to embrace him, not only for justification, 
but also for sanctification, as he has been given to us for 
both these purposes, lest they rend him asunder by their 
mutilated faith. 

But if ye by the Spirit, &c. He thus moderates his ad- 
dress, that he might not deject the minds of the godly, who 
are still conscious of much infirmity ; for however we may 
as yet be exposed to sins, he nevertheless promises life to us, 
provided we strive to mortify the flesh : for he does not 
strictly require the destruction of the flesh, but only bids us 
to make every exertion to subdue its lusts. 

14. For whosoever are led by the Spirit of God, &c. This 
is a confirmation of what has immediately preceded ; for he 
teaches us, that those only are deemed the sons of God who 
are ruled by his Spirit ; for by this mark God acknowledges 
them as his own people. Thus the empty boasting of hypo- 
crites is taken away, who without any reason assume the 


title ; and the faithful are thus encouraged with unhesitat- 
ing confidence to expect salvation. The import of the whole 
is this — " all those are the sons of God who are led 1 by 
God's Spirit ; all the sons of God are heirs of eternal life : 
then all who are led by God's Spirit ought to feel assured of 
eternal life." But the middle term or assumption is omitted, 
for it was indubitable. 

But it is right to observe, that the working of the Spirit 
is various : for there is that which is universal, by which 
all creatures are sustained and preserved ; there is that also 
which is peculiar to men, and varying in its character : but 
what he means here is sanctification, with which the Lord 
favours none but his own elect, and by which he separates 
them for sons to himself. 

15. For ye have not received the 15. Et enim non accepistis spiri- 
spirit of bondage again to fear ; but turn servitutis iterum in terrorem : 
ye have received the Spirit of adop- sed accepistis Spiritum adoptionis, 
tion, whereby Ave cry. Abba, Father, per quem clamamus, Abba, Pater. 

16. The Spirit itself beareth wit- 16. Ipse enim Spiritus simul tes- 
ness with our spirit, that we are the tificatur spiritui nostro quod sumus 
children of God : filii Dei : 

17. And if children, then heirs; 17. Si vero filii, etiam hferedes ; 
heirs of God, and joint-heirs with hreredes quidem Dei, cohseredes 
Christ : if so be that we suffer with autem Christi : siquidem compati- 
him, that we may be also glorified mur, ut et una glorificemur. 

18. For I reckon that the suffer- 18. Existimo certe non esse pares 
ings of this present time are not affhctiones hujus temporis ad futu- 
worthy to be compared with the glory ram gloriam quas revelabitur erga 
which shall be revealed in us. nos. 

He now confirms the certainty of that confidence, in 
which he has already bidden the faithful to rest secure ; and 
he does this by mentioning the special effect produced by 
the Spirit ; for he has not been given for the purpose of 
harassing us with trembling or of tormenting us with anxiety ; 

i Aywrai — are led or conducted : " A metaphor taken from the blind or 
those in darkness, who know not how to proceed without a conductor. So 
we have need to be led by the Spirit in the way of truth, for we are blind 
and see no light. Or it is a metaphor taken from infants, who can hardly 
walk without a guide ; for the regenerated are like little children lately 
born. Thus we are reminded of our misery and weakness ; and we ought 
not to ascribe to ourselves either knowledge or strength apart from the 
Spirit of God." — Parens. 


but on the contrary, for this end — that having calmed every 
perturbation, and restoring our minds to a tranquil state, 
he may stir us up to call on God with confidence and free- 
dom. He does not then pursue only the argument which 
he had before stated, but dwells more on another clause, 
which he had connected with it, even the paternal mercy of 
God, by which he forgives his people the infirmities of the 
flesh and the sins which still remain in them. He teaches 
us that our confidence in this respect is made certain by the 
Spirit of adoption, who could not inspire us with confidence 
in prayer without sealing to us a gratuitous pardon : and 
that he might make this more evident, he mentions a 
twofold spirit ; he calls one the spirit of bondage, which we 
receive from the law ; and the other, the spirit of adoption, 
which proceeds from the gospel. The first, he says, was 
given formerly to produce fear ; the other is given now to 
afford assurance. By such a comparison of contrary things 
the certainty of our salvation, which he intended to confirm, 
is, as you see, made more evident. 1 The same comparison is 
used by the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews, where he 
says, that we have not come to Mount Sinai, where all things 
were so terrible, that the people, being alarmed as it were by 
an immediate apprehension of death, implored that the word 
should be no more spoken to them, and Moses himself con- 
fessed that he was terrified ; " but to Sion, the mount of the 
Lord, and to his city, the heavenly Jerusalem, where Jesus 
is, the Mediator of the New Testament," &c. (Heb. xii. 18.) 
Ity the adverb again, we learn, that the law is here com- 

1 By the Spirit, vvivfia., (without the article,) some, as Augustine, Beta, 
and others, understand the Holy Spirit, and so Calvin, for the most part, 
seems to do. Then " the Spirit of bondage" means the Spirit the effect 
of whose administration was bondage; and " the Spirit of adoption'' must 
signify the Spirit, the bestower of adoption. But we may take spirit 
here, in both instances, as it is often taken, in the sense of disposition or 
feeling ; according to the expression, " the spirit of meekness" — wiv/uurt 
■prgaoryros, 1 Cor. iv. 21, and " the spirit of fear" — vviupa. Huxius, 2 Tim. 
i. 7. The word for adoption, uhhrla, may be rendered sonship, or affilia- 
tion, or filiation, as Luther sometimes renders it : and as the spirit of 
meekness means a meek spirit, so we may translate the two clauses here, 
" a servile spirit," and " a filial spirit." At the same time it may be 
better to take the " spirit" throughout as the divine Spirit, as in several 
instances it must evidently be so taken,— Ed. 


pared with the gospel : for the Son of God by his coming 
lias brought to us this invaluable benefit, — that we are no 
longer bound by the servile condition of the law. You are 
not however to infer from this, either that no one before the 
coming of Christ was endued with the spirit of adoption, or 
that all who received the law were servants and not sons : 
for he compares the ministration of the law with the dispen- 
sation of the gospel rather than persons with persons. I in- 
deed allow that the faithful are here reminded how much 
more bountifully God now deals with them than he did 
formerly with the fathers under the Old Testament ; he yet 
regards the outward dispensation, in respect of which only 
we excel them : for though the faith of Abraham, of Moses, 
and of David, was superior to ours, yet as God kept them 
apparently under a schoolmaster, they had not advanced 
into that liberty which has been revealed to us. 

But it must at the same time be noticed, that it was de- 
signedly, on account of false apostles, that a contrast was 
made between the literal disciples of the law, and the faith- 
ful whom Christ, the heavenly Teacher, not only addresses 
by words, but also teaches inwardly and effectually by his 

And though the covenant of grace is included under the 
law, it is yet far different from it ; for in setting up the 
gospel in opposition to it, he regards nothing but what was 
peculiar to the law itself, as it commands and forbids, and 
restrains transgressors by the denunciation of death : and 
thus he gives the law its own character, in which it differs 
from the gospel ; or this statement may be preferred by 
some, — " He sets forth the law only, as that by which God 
covenants with us on the ground of works." So then j>ersons 
only must be regarded as to the Jewish people ; for when the 
law was published, and also after it was published, the godly 
were illuminated by the same Spirit of faith ; and thus the 
hope of eternal life, of which the Spirit is the earnest and 
seal, was sealed on .their hearts. The only difference is, 
that the Spirit is more largely and abundantly poured forth 
in the kingdom of Christ. But if you regard only the dis- 
pensation of the law, it will then appear, that salvation was 


first clearly revealed at that time, when Christ was mani- 
fested in the flesh. All things under the Old Testament 
were involved in great obscurity, when compared with the 
clear light of the gospel. 

And then, if the law be viewed in itself, it can do nothing 
but restrain those, devoted to its miserable bondage, by the 
horror of death ; for it promises no good except under con- 
dition, and denounces death on all transgressors. Hence, as 
there is the spirit of bondage under the law, which oppresses 
the conscience with fear ; so under the gospel there is the 
spirit of adoption, which exhilarates our souls by bearing a 
testimony as to our salvation. But observe, that fear is 
connected with bondage, as it cannot be otherwise, but that 
the law will harass and torment souls with miserable dis- 
quietness, as long as it exercises its dominion. There is 
then no other remedy for quieting them, except God for- 
gives us our sin and deals kindly with us as a father with 
his children. 

Through whom we cry, &c. He has changed the person, 
that he might describe the common privilege of all the 
saints ; as though he had said, — " Ye have the spirit, through 
whom you and all we, the rest of the faithful, cry,"&c. The 
imitation of their language is very significant ; when he in- 
troduces the word Father, in the person of the faithful. 
The repetition of the name is for the sake of amplification ; 
for Paul intimates, that God's mercy was so published 
through the whole world, that he was invoked, as Augustine 
observes, indiscriminately in all languages. 1 His object 
then was to express the consent which existed among all 

1 Wolfins gives a quotation from the Talmud, by which it appears that 
" servants" or slaves, and " maids" or bondmaids, were not allowed among 
the Jews to call their master Abba (N2X), nor their mistress Anna (NCN), 
these being names which children alone were permitted to use. And Sel- 
den says, that there is an evident allusion in this passage to that custom 
among the Jews. Under the law the people of God were servants, but 
under the gospel they are made children : and hence the privilege of calling 
God Abba. Haldane, quoting Claude, gives the same explanation. The 
repetition of the word is for the sake of emphasis, and is given as an ex- 
pression of warm, ardent, and intense feeling. See an example of this in 
our Saviour's prayer in the garden, Mark xiv. 3(1, and in what he said on 
the cross, Matt, xxvii. 46. The idea mentioned by Calvin., derived from 
the Fathers, seems not to be well founded. — Ed. 


nations. It hence follows, that there is now no difference 
between the Jew and the Greek, as they are united together. 
Isaiah speaks differently when he declares, that the language 
of Canaan would be common to all, (Is. xix. 18 ;) yet the 
meaning is the same ; for he had no respect to the external 
idiom, but to the harmony of heart in serving God, and to 
the same undisguised zeal in professing his true and pure 
worship. The word cry is set down for the purpose of ex- 
pressing confidence ; as though he said, "We pray not doubt- 
ingly, but we confidently raise up a loud voice to heaven.'" 

The faithful also under the law did indeed call God their 
Father, but not with such full confidence, as the vail kept 
them at a distance from the sanctuary : but now, since an 
entrance has been opened to us by the blood of Christ, we 
may rejoice fully and openly that we are the children of 
God ; hence arises this crying. In short, thus is fulfilled 
the prophecy of Hosea, " I will say to them, My people are 
ye : they in their turn will answer, Thou art our God." 
(Hosea ii. 23.) For the more evident the promise is, the 
greater the freedom in prayer. 

16. The Spirit himself, &c. He does not simply say, that 
God's Spirit is a witness to our spirit, but he adopts a com- 
pound verb, which might be rendered " contest," (contesta- 
tur,) were it not that contestation (contestatio) has a different 
meaning in Latin. But Paul means, that the Spirit of God 
gives us such a testimony, that when he is our guide and 
teacher, our spirit is made assured of the adoption of .God: 
for our mind of its own self, without the preceding testimony 
of the Spirit, could not convey to us this assurance. There 
is also here an explanation of the former verse ; for when 
the Spirit testifies to us, that we are the children of God, he 
at the same time pours into our hearts such confidence, that 
we venture to call God our Father. And doubtless, since 
the confidence of the heart alone opens our mouth, except 
the Spirit testifies to our heart respecting the paternal love 
of God, our tongues would be dumb, so that they could utter 
no prayers. For we must ever hold fast this principle, — 
that we do not rightly pray to God, unless we are surely 
persuaded in our hearts, that he is our Father, when we so 


call him with our lips. To this there is a corresponding 
part, — that our faith has no true evidence, except we call 
upon God. It is not then without reason that Paul, bring- 
ing us to this test, shows that it then only appears how truly 
any one believes, when they who have embraced the promise 
of grace, exercise themselves in prayers. 1 

But there is here a striking refutation of the vain notions 
of the Sophists respecting moral conjecture, which is nothing 
else but uncertainty and anxiety of mind ; nay, rather vacil- 
lation and delusion. 2 There is also an answer given here to 

1 The words aM tb n-vzoftu, seem to mean the divine Spirit. The refer- 
ence is to " the Spirit of God" in verse 14 ; " This self-same Spirit," or, 
" He the Spirit;" for so «.Iros, or abro, may be rendered, especially when 
the article intervenes between it and its noun. See Luke xxiv. 15 ; John 
xvi. 27. 

Beza renders av^^rt^rv^u ra wivpari hpZ*, " testifies together with our 
spirit — una cum nostro spiritu," and the Vulgate " testifies to our Spirit," as 
though the verb had not its compound : and it is said to have only the sim- 
pler meaning of testifying, though compounded, in chap. ix. 1 ; and in Rev. 
xxii. 18, where it has a dative case after it as here. " I testify to every 
man," &c. The soul appears to be here called " spirit," because the re- 
newed soul is intended, or the soul having the spirit of adoption ; or it may 
be an instance of the Apostle's mode of writing, who often puts the same 
word twice in a sentence, but in a different meaning. The Holy Spirit tes- 
tifies to our spirit, say Origen and Theodoret, by producing obedience, love 
and imitation of God, which are evidences of our adoption ; but Chrysostom 
and Ambrose say, by enabling us to cry Abba, Father, according to the 
former verse. The latter seems to be the meaning adopted by Calvin. 
It is said by Estius, according to Poole, that the compound verb is never 
used without the idea of a joint- testimony being implied, and that in Rev. 
xxii. 18, it is a testimony in conjunction with Christ. Then the import of 
this text would be, that the Holy Spirit testifies, together with the spirit 
of adoption, to our spirit, to our soul or renewed mind, that we are the 
children of God. Thus a direct influence of the Spirit, in addition to that 
which is sanctifying and filial, seems to have been intended. See 2 Cor. 
i. 22 ; Eph. i. 13. 14; 1 John ii. 20, 27. 

Professor Hodge gives this paraphrase, — " Not only does our filial spirit 
towards God prove that we are his children, but the Holy Spirit itself con- 
veys to our souls the assurance of this delightful fact." This seems to be 
the full and precise import of the passage. — Ed. 

2 " The [Roman] Catholic Church, with which all sects that proceed 
from Pelagian principles agree, deters from the certainty of the state of 
grace, and desires uncertainty towards God. Such uncertainty of liearts 
is then a convenient means to keep men in the leading-strings of the 
priesthood or ambitious founders of sects ; for since they are not allowed 
to have any certainty themselves respecting their relation to God, they 
can only rest upon the judgments of their leaders about it, who thus rule 
souls with absolute dominion ; the true evangelic doctrine makes free from 
such slavery to man." — Olshansr». 

There is no doubt much truth in these remarks ; but another reason 


their objection, for they ask, " How can a man fully know 
the will of God ?" This certainly is not within the reach of 
man, but it is the testimony of God's Spirit ; and this sub- 
ject he treats more at large in the First Epistle to the Corin- 
thians, from which we may derive a fuller explanation of 
this passage. Let this truth then stand sure, — that no one 
can be called a son of God, who does not know himself to 
be such ; and this is called knowledge by John, in order to 
set forth its certainty. (1 John v. 19, 20.) 

1 7. And if children, &c. By an argument, taken from 
what is annexed or what follows, he proves that our salva- 
tion consists in having God as our Father. It is for children 
that inheritance is appointed : since God then has adopted 
us as his children, he has at the same time ordained an in- 
heritance for us. He then intimates what sort of inherit- 
ance it is — that it is heavenly, and therefore incorruptible 
and eternal, such as Christ possesses ; and his possession of 
it takes away all uncertainty : and it is a commendation of 
the excellency of this inheritance, that we shall partake of 
it in common with the only-begotten Son of God. It is 
however the design of Paul, as it will presently appear more 
fully, highly to extol this inheritance promised to us, that 
we may be contented with it, and manfully despise the al- 
lurements of the world, and patiently bear whatever troubles 
may press on us in this life. 

If so be that we suffer together, &c. Various are the in- 
terpretations of this passage, but I approve of the following 
in preference to any other, " We are co-heirs with Christ, 
provided, in entering on our inheritance, we follow him in 
the same way in which he has gone before/' And he thus 
made mention of Christ, because he designed to pass over 
by these steps to an encouraging strain, — " God's inherit- 
ance is ours, because we have by his grace been adopted as 
his children ; and that it may not be doubtful, its possession 
has been already conferred on Christ, whose partners we are 

may be added : Those who know not themselves what assurance is, cannot 
consistently teach the doctrine : and real, genuine assurance, is an elevated 
state, to which man, attached to merely natural principles, can never 
ascend. — Ed. 


become : but Christ came to it by the cross ; then we must 
come to it in the same manner/' 1 Nor is that to be dreaded 
which some fear, that Paul thus ascribes the cause of our 
eternal glory to our labours ; for this mode of speaking is 
not unusual in Scripture. He denotes the order, which the 
Lord follows in dispensing salvation to us, rather than the 
cause ; for he has already sufficiently defended the gratui- 
tous mercy of God against the merits of works. When now 
exhorting us to patience, he does not show whence salvation 
proceeds, but how God governs his people. 

18. / indeed judge, 2 &c. Though they take not altogether 
an unsuitable view who understand this as a kind of modi- 
fication ; jet I prefer to regard it in the light of an encour- 
agement, for the purpose of anticipating an objection, accord- 
ing to this import, — " It ought not indeed to be grievous to 
us, if we must pass through various afflictions into celestial 
glory, since these, when compared with the greatness of that 
glory, are of the least moment." He has mentioned future 
for eternal glory, intimating that the afflictions of the world 
are such as pass away quickly. 

It is hence evident how ill understood has this passage 
been by the Schoolmen ; for they have drawn from it their 
frivolous distinction between congruity and condignity. The 

1 The particle uvt^ is rendered the same as here by Ambrose and Beza, 
" si modo — if in case that ;" but by Chrysostom and Peter Martyr, in the 
sense of Inula*, " quandoquidem — since," " since we suffer together, in 
order that we may also be together glorified." The Vulgate has, " si tamen 
— if however." It may be suitably rendered " provided." — Ed. 

2 The particle yag cannot be causal here. It has its primary meaning, 
truly, indeed, or verily, though it has commonly its secondary meaning, 

for, because, therefore. The context is our guide ; when there is nothing 
previously said, for which a reason is given, then it has only an affirmative 
sense ; or as some think, it is to be viewed as a particle of transition, or as 
signifying an addition, and may be rendered besides, further, moreover. 
Perhaps this latter meaning would be suitable here. In the preceding 
verse the Apostle says, for the encouragement of Christians, that their 
conformity to Christ in suffering would terminate in conformity to him in 
glory : and then, as an additional consideration, he states his full convic- 
tion, that present sufferings are as nothing to the glory which they would 
have to enjoy. The connection can hardly be otherwise seen, except in- 
deed we consider something understood, as, " Not only so ;" and then it 
may be rendered for, as giving a reason for the qualifying negative. An 
ellipsis of this kind is not without examples in Greek authors, as well as 
in the New Testament. — Ed. 


Apostle indeed compares not the worthiness of the one with 
that of the other, but only lightens the heaviness of the cross 
by a comparison with the greatness of glory, in order to con- 
firm the minds of the faithful in patience. 

19. For the earnest expectation of 19. Siquidem intenta expectatio 
the creature waiteth for the mani- creature, revelationem filiorum Dei 
festation of the sons of God. expectat : 

20. For the creature was made 20. Vanitati enim creatura sub- 
subject to vanity, not willingly, but jecta est non volens, sed propter eum 
by reason of him who hath subjected qui subjecit ipsam in spe ; 

the same in hope ; 

21 . Because the creature itself also 21 . Quoniam ipsa quoque creatura 
shall be delivered from the bondage asseretur a servitute corruptionis in 
of corruption into the glorious liberty libertatem gloria? tiliorum Dei. 

of the children of God. 

22. For we know that the whole 22. Novimus enim quod creatura 
creation groaneth and travaileth in universa congemiscit, et ad hunc 
pain together until now. diem parturit. 

19. For the intent expectation of the creation, &c. He 
teaches us that there is an example of the patience, to which 
he had exhorted us, even in mute creatures. Tor, to omit 
various interpretations, I understand the passage to have 
this meaning — that there is no element and no part of the 
world which, being touched, as it were, with a sense of its 
present misery, does not intensely hope for a resurrection. 
He indeed lays down two things, — that all are creatures in 
distress, — and yet that they are sustained by hope. And it 
hence also appears how immense is the value of eternal 
glory, that it can excite and draw all things to desire it. 

Further, the expression, expectation expects, or waits for, 
though somewhat unusual, yet has a most suitable meaning ; 
for he meant to intimate, that all creatures, seized with great 
anxiety and held in suspense with great desire, look for that 
day which shall openly exhibit the glory of the children of 
God. The revelation of God's children shall be, when we 
shall be like God, according to what John says, " For though 
we know that we are now his sons, yet it appears not yet 
what we shall be." (1 John iii. 2.) But I have retained the 
words of Paul ; for bolder than what is meet is the version of 
Erasmus, " Until the sons of God shall be manifest ;" nor 
does it sufficiently express the meaning of the Apostle ; for 


lie means not, that the sons of God shall be manifested in 
the last day, but that it shall be then made known how de- 
sirable and blessed their condition will be, when they shall 
put off corruption and put on celestial glory. But he ascribes 
hope to creatures void of reason for this end,' — that the faith- 
ful may open their eyes to behold the invisible life, though 
as yet it lies hid under a mean garb. 

20. For to vanity has the creation, &c. He shows the 
object of expectation from what is of an ojjposite character ; 
for as creatures, being now subject to corruption, cannot be 
restored until the sons of God shall be wholly restored ; 
hence they, longing for their renewal, look forward to the 
manifestation of the celestial kingdom. He says, that they 
have been subjected to vanity, and for this reason, because 
they abide not in a constant and durable state, but being as 
it were evanescent and unstable, they pass away swiftly ; for 
no doubt he sets vanity in opposition to a perfect state. 

Not willingly, &c. Since there is no reason in such crea- 
tures, their will is to be taken no doubt for their natural 
inclination, according to which the whole nature of things 
tends to its own preservation and perfection : whatever then 
is detained under corruption suffers violence, nature being 
unwilling and repugnant. But he introduces all parts of the 
world, by a sort of personification, as being endued with rea- 
son ; and he does this in order to shame our stupidity, when 
the uncertain fluctuation of this world, which we see, does 
not raise our minds to higher things. 

But on account of him, &c. He sets before us an example 
of obedience in all created things, and adds, that it springs 
from hope ; for hence comes the alacrity of the sun and 
moon, and of all the stars in their constant courses, hence is 
the sedulity of the earth's obedience in bringing forth fruits, 
hence is the unwearied motion of the air, hence is the prompt 
tendency to flow in water. God has given to everything its 
charge ; and he has not only by a distinct order commanded 
what he would to be done, but also implanted inwardly the 
hope of renovation. For in the sad disorder which followed 
the fall of Adam, the whole machinery of the world would 
have instantly become deranged, and all its parts would have 


failed had not some hidden strength supported them. It 
would have been then wholly inconsistent that the earnest 
of the Spirit should be less efficacious in the children of God 
than hidden instinct in the lifeless parts of creation. How 
much soever then created things do naturally incline another 
way; yet as it has pleased God to bring them under vanity, 
they obey his order ; and as he has given them a hope of a 
better condition, with this they sustain themselves, deferring 
their desire, until the incorruption promised to them shall 
be revealed. He now, by a kind of personification, ascribes 
hope to them, as he did will before. 

21. Because the creation itself, &c. He shows how the 
creation has in hope been made subject to vanity; that is, in- 
asmuch as it shall some time be made free, according to what 
Isaiah testifies, and what Peter confirms still more clearly. 

It is then indeed meet for us to consider what a dreadful 
curse we have deserved, since all created things in themselves 
blameless, both on earth and in the visible heaven, undergo 
punishment for our sins ; for it has not happened through 
their own fault, that they are liable to corruption. Thus the 
condemnation of mankind is imprinted on the heavens, and 
on the earth, and on all creatures. It hence also appears to 
what excelling glory the sons of God shall be exalted ; for 
all creatures shall be renewed in order to amplify it, and to 
render it illustrious. 

But he means not that all creatures shall be partakers of 
the same glory with the sons of God ; but that they, accord- 
ing to their nature, shall be participators of a better condi- 
tion ; for God will restore to a perfect state the world, now 
fallen, together with mankind. But what that perfection 
will be, as to beasts as well as plants and metals, it is not 
meet nor right in us to inquire more curiously ; for the chief 
effect of corruption is decay. Some subtle men, but hardly 
sober-minded, inquire whether all kinds of animals will be 
immortal ; but if reins be given to speculations where will 
they at length lead us ? Let us then be content with this 
simple doctrine, — that such will be the constitution and the 
complete order of things, that nothing will be deformed or 


22. For we know, &c. He repeats the same sentiment, 
that he might pass over to us, though what is now said has 
the effect and the form of a conclusion ; for as creatures are 
subject to corruption, not through their natural desire, but 
through the appointment of God, and then, as they have a 
hope of being hereafter freed from corruption, it hence fol- 
lows, that they groan like a woman in travail until they shall 
be delivered. But it is a most suitable similitude ; it shows 
that the groaning of which he speaks will not be in vain and 
without effect ; for it will at length bring forth a joyful and 
blessed fruit. The meaning is, that creatures are not con- 
tent in their present state, and yet that they are not so dis- 
tressed that they pine away without a prospect of a remedy, 
but that they are as it were in travail ; for a restoration to 
a better state awaits them. By saying that they groan to- 
gether, he does not mean that they are united together by 
mutual anxiety, but he joins them as companions to us. 
The particle hitherto, or, to this day, serves to alleviate the 
weariness of daily languor ; for if creatures have continued 
for so many ages in their groaning, how inexcusable will our 
softness or sloth be if we faint during the short course of a 
shadowy life. 1 

1 The various opinions which have been given on these verses are re- 
ferred to at some length by Stuart ; and he enumerates not less than 
eleven, but considers only two as entitled to special attention — the material 
creation, animate and inanimate, as held here by Calvin, artd the rational 
creation, including mankind, with the exception of Christians, which he 
himself maintains. In favour of the first he names Chrysostom, Theodoret, 
Tlieophylact, CEcumenius, Jerome, Ambrose, Luther, Koppe, Doddridge, 
[this is not correct,] Flatt, and Tholuck ; to whom may be added Scott, 
Haldane, and Chalmers, though Scott, rather inconsistently with the words 
of the text, if the material creation including animals be meant, regards 
as a reverie their resurrection ; see verse 21. 

After a minute discussion of various points, Stuart avows his preference 
to the opinion, that the " creature " means mankind in general, as being 
the least liable to objections ; and he mentions as its advocates Lightfoot, 
Locke, Turrettin, Sender, Rosenmullcr, and others. He might have 
added Augustine. Reference is made for the meaning of the word " crea- 
ture " to Mark xvi. 15 ; Col. i. 23 ; and 1 Pet. ii. 13. 

It appears from Wolfius, that the greater part of the Lutheran and 
Reformed Divines have entertained the first opinion, that the " creature" 
means the world, material and animal; to which he himself mainly accedes; 
and what he considers next to this, as the most tenable, is the notion, that 
the " creature" means the faithful, that " the sons of God" are the blessed 


23. And not only they, but our- 23. Non solum autem, sed ipsi 
selves also, which have the first-fruits quoque qui primordia Spiritus ha- 
of the Spirit, even we ourselves bemus ; nos inquam ipsi in nobis 
groan within ourselves, waiting for ipsis gemimus, adoptionem expec- 
the adoption, to wit) the redemption tantes, redemptionem corporis nos- 
of our body. tri. 

24. For we are saved by hope : 24. Spe enim salvi facti sumus ; 
but hope that is seen is not hope : spes vero quse conspicitur, non est 
for what a man seeth, why doth he spes ; quod enim conspicit quis, 
yet hope for ? quomodo etiam speret ? 

25. But if we hope for that we 25. Si ergo non quod non conspi- 
see not, then do we with patience cimus, speramus, per patientiam ex- 
wait for it. pectamus. 

23. And not only so, &c. There are those who think that 

in heaven, and that the Apostles and apostolic men were those who enjoyed 
" the first-fruits of the Spirit." 

This last opinion relieves us from difficulties which press on all other 
expositions ; and it may be extricated from objections which have been made 
to it ; only the last sentence needs not be introduced. The whole passage, 
from verse 18 to the end of verse 25, is in character with the usual style 
of the Apostle. He finishes the first part with verse 22 ; and then in the 
second part he announces the same thing in a different form, in more ex- 
plicit terms, and with some additions. The " waiting" in verse 19, has a 
correspondent " waiting " in verse 23 ; and " the hope " in verse 20, has 
another " hope " to correspond with it in verse 24 ; and correspondent too 
is " the manifestation of the sons of God" in verse 19, and " the redemp- 
tion of our body" in verse 23. To reiterate the same truth in a different 
way was to make a deeper impression, and accordant with the Apostle's 
manner of writing. He begins the second time, after verse 22, in which 
is stated the condition of the whole world ; and it is in contrast with that 
alone that the 23d verse is to be viewed, which restates and explains what 
had been previously said ; so that " the creature" are the " we ourselves ;" 
and the Apostle proceeds with the subject to end of the 25th verse. 
Instances of the same sort of arrangement are to be found in chap. ii. 
17-24 ; xi. 33-36. 

The 21st verse may be considered as an explanation only of the " hope," 
at the end of the 20th ; " For even it, the creature," though subjected to 
vanity, " shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption ;" which means 
the same as " this body of death," in chap. vii. 24. 

The word xr'nns, means, 1, creation, the world, Mark x. 6 ; xiii. 19 ; 
Rom. i. 20 ; 2 Peter hi. 4 : — 2, what is created — creature, what is formed 
— a building, what is instituted — an ordinance, Rom. i. 25; viii. 39; Heb. 
iv. 13; ix. 11; 1 Peter ii. 13: — 3, mankind, the world of men, Mark xvi. 
15 ; Col. i. 23 : — 4, the renewed man, or renewed nature — Christians, 2 
Cor. v. 17 ; Gal. vi. 15. There are only two other places where it is found, 
and is rendered in our version " creation," Col. i. 15, and Rev. iii. 14. 

It is objected to its application here to Christians, because where it has 
this meaning, it is preceded by xanh, new. The same objection stands 
against applying it to mankind in general, for in these instances navy pre- 
cedes it. Its meaning must be gathered from the whole passage, and we 
must not stop at the end of verse 23, but include the two following verses. 
— Ed. 


the Apostle intended here to exalt the dignity of our future 
blessedness, and by this proof, because all things look for it 
with ardent desire ; not only the irrational parts of creation, 
but we also who have been regenerated by the Spirit of God. 
This view is indeed capable of being defended, but there 
seems to me to be a comparison here between the greater 
and the less ; as though he said, " The excellency of our 
glory is of such importance even to the very elements, which 
are destitute of mind and reason, that they burn with a cer- 
tain kind of desire for it ; how much more it behoves us, 
who have been illuminated by the Spirit of God, to aspire 
and strive with firmness of hope and with ardour of desire, 
after the attainment of so great a benefit." And he requires 
that there should be a feeling of two kinds in the faithful : 
that being burdened with the sense of their present misery, 
they are to groan ; and that notwithstanding they are to 
wait patiently for their deliverance ; for he would have them 
to be raised up with the expectation of their future blessed- 
ness, and by an elevation of mind to overcome all their pre- 
sent miseries, while they consider not what they are now, 
but what they are to be. 

Who have the beginnings, &c. Some render the word first- 
fruits, (primitias,) and as meaning a rare and uncommon 
excellency ; but of this view I by no means approve. To 
avoid, therefore, any ambiguity, I have rendered the word 
beginnings, (primordia, the elements,) for I do not apply 
the expression, as they do, to the Apostles only, but to all 
the faithful who in this world are besprinkled only with a 
few drops by the Spirit ; and indeed when they make the 
greatest proficiency, being endued with a considerable 
measure of it, they are still far off from perfection. These, 
then, in the view of the Apostle, are beginnings or first- 
fruits, to which is opposed the complete ingathering ; for as 
we are not yet endued with fulness, it is no wonder that we 
feel disquietude. By repeating ourselves and adding in our- 
selves, he renders the sentence more emphatical, and ex- 
presses a more ardent desire, nor does he call it only a desire, 
but groaning : for in groaning there is a deep feeling of 


Waiting for the adoption, &c. Improperly indeed, but 
not without the best reason, is adoption employed here to 
designate the fruition of the inheritance to which we are 
adopted ; for Paul means this, that the eternal decree of 
God, by which he has chosen us to himself as sons before 
the foundation of the world, of which he testifies to us in the 
gospel, the assurance of which he seals on our hearts by his 
Spirit, would be void, except the promised resurrection were 
certain, which is its consummation. 1 For to what end is 
God our Father, except he receives us after we have finished 
our earthly pilgrimage into his celestial inheritance? To 
the same purpose is what he immediately subjoins, the re- 
demption of the body. For the price of our redemption was 
in such a way paid by Christ, that death should notwith- 
standing hold us tied by its chains, yea, that we should 
carry it within us ; it hence follows, that the sacrifice of the 
death of Christ would be in vain and fruitless, except its 
fruit appeared in our heavenly renovation. 

24. For by hope, Sec. Paul strengthens his exhortation by 
another argument ; for our salvation cannot be separated 
from some kind of death, and this he proves by the nature 
of hope. Since hope extends to things not yet obtained, and 
represents to our minds the form of things hidden and far 
remote, whatever is either openly seen or really possessed, 
is not an object of hope. But Paul takes it as granted, and 
what cannot be denied, that as long as we are in the world, 
salvation is what is hoped for ; it hence follows, that it is 
laid up with God far beyond what we can see. By saying, 
that hope is not what is seen, he uses a concise expression, 
but the meaning is not obscure ; for he means simply to 
teach us, that since hope regards some future and not pre- 
sent good, it can never be connected with what Ave have in 
possession. If then it be grievous to any to groan, they 
necessarily subvert the order laid down by God, who does not 

1 The impropriety, which Calvin notices, is according to the usual 
phraseology of Scripture. What commences in this world and is completed 
in the next is called by the same name. The word salvation is used in 
this way as designating its commencement and its progress as well as its 
completion. Besides, adoption here has a particular regard to the body, 
as it is explained by the words which follow. — Ed. 


call his people to victory before he exercises them in the 
warfare of patience. But since it has pleased Grod to lay up 
our salvation, as it were, in his closed bosom, it is expedient 
for us to toil on earth, to be oppressed, to mourn, to be 
afflicted, yea, to lie down as half-dead and to be like the 
dead ; for they who seek a visible salvation reject it, as they 
renounce hope which has been appointed by God as its 
guardian. 1 

25. If then what we see not, &c. This is an argument 
derived from what the antecedent implies ; for patience ne- 
cessarily follows hope. For when it is grievous to be with- 
out the good you may desire, unless you sustain and comfort 
yourselves with patience, you must necessarily faint through 
despair. Hope then ever draws patience with it. Thus it 
is a most apt conclusion — that whatever the gospel promises 
respecting the glory of the resurrection, vanishes away, ex- 
cept we spend our present life in patiently bearing the cross 
and tribulations. For if life be invisible, we must have 
death before our eyes : if glory be invisible, then our present 
state is that of degradation. And hence if you wish to 
include in a few words the meaning of the whole passage, 
arrange Paul's arguments in this way, " To all the godly 
there is salvation laid up in hope ; it is the character of 
hope to look forward to future and absent benefits : then the 
salvation of the faithful is not visible. Now hope is not 
otherwise sustained than by patience ; then the salvation of 
the faithful is not to be consummated except by patience." 

It may be added, that we have here a remarkable pas- 
sage, which shows, that patience is an inseparable companion 
of faith ; and the reason of this is evident, for when we con- 
sole ourselves with the hope of a better condition, the feeling 
of our present miseries is softened- and mitigated, so that 
they are borne with less difficulty. 2 

1 When we are said to be saved by hope, the meaning is that we are not 
fully or perfectly saved now, and that this is what we hope for. " Eternal 
salvation," says Grotius, " we have not yet, but we hope for it." There 
is present salvation, but that which is perfect is future. The Scripture 
speaks of salvation now, see Eph. ii. 8 ; Tit. hi. 4, 5 ; and of salvation as 
future, see Mark xiii. 13; x. 9. — Ed. 

a " Patience," says Parens, " is needful for three reasons, — the good ex- 
pected is absent, — there is delay, — and many difficulties intervene." — Ed. 


26. Likewise 1 the Spirit also help- 26. Similiter 1 vero Spiritus etiam 
eth our infirmities : for we know not coopitulatur infirmitatibus nostris ; 
what we should pray for as we non enim quid oraturi sumus quem- 
ought ; but the Spirit itself maketh admodum oportet, novimus ; verum 
intercession for us with groanings Spiritus ipse intercedit pro nobis 
which cannot be uttered. gemitibus innarrabilibus. 

27. And he that searcheth the 27- Qui vero scrutatur corda, novit 
hearts knoweth what is the mind of cogitationem Spiritus, quod secun- 
the Spirit, because he maketh inter- dum Deum intercedit pro Sanctis, 
cession for the saints according to 

the will of God. 

26. And likewise the Spirit, &c. That the faithful may 
not make this objection — that they are so weak as not to be 
able to bear so many and so heavy burdens, he brings before 
them the aid of the Spirit, which is abundantly sufficient to 
overcome all difficulties. There is then no reason for any 
one to complain, that the bearing of the cross is beyond 
their own strength, since we are sustained by a celestial 
power. And there is great force in the Greek word avvav- 
Tika/jb^dveTai, which means that the Spirit takes on himself 
a part of the burden, by which our weakness is oppressed ; 
so that he not only helps and succours us, but lifts us up ; 
as though he went under the burden with us. 2 The word 
infirmities, being in the plural number, is expressive of ex- 
tremity. For as experience shows, that except we are sup- 
ported by God's hands, we are soon overwhelmed by innu- 
merable evils, Paul reminds us, that though we are in every 
respect weak, and various infirmities threaten our fall, there 
is yet sufficient protection in God's Spirit to preserve us 

1 The connection here is not very evident 'ciraurws — " similiter — in like 
manner," by Calvin ; " itidem — likewise," by Pareus and Beza ; " prse- 
terea — besides," by Grotius; " moreover," by Doddridge. The word 
usually means, in the same, or, the like manner : but the two last seem to 
render it suitably to this place ; for what follows is mentioned in addition 
to what had been stated respecting hope and patience. — Ed. 

2 Pareus says, that this verb is taken metaphorically from assistance 
afforded to infants not able to support themselves, or to the sick, tottering 
and hardly able to walk. 

" Coopitulatur" is Calvin's Latin — " co-assist ;" Beza's, " una sublevat — 
lifts up together," that is, together with those who labour under infirmities. 
The Vulgate has " adjuvat — helps," like our version. Schleusner says, 
that it means to succour those whose strength is unequal to carry their bur- 
den alone. It is found in one other place, Luke x. 40. It is given by the 
Septuagint in Ps. lxxxix. 21, for f12# — " to strengthen, to invigorate," 
and in Exod. xviii. 22, for "]riX Nt2>2 — " to bear with," that is, " a burden 
with thee," — the very idea that it seems to have here. — Ed. 


from falling, and to keep us from being overwhelmed by any- 
mass of evils. At the same time these supplies of the Spirit 
more clearly prove to us, that it is by God's appointment 
that we strive, by groanings and sighings, for our redemp- 

For ivhat we should pray for, &c. He had before spoken 
of the testimony of the Spirit, by which we know that God 
is our Father, and on which relying, we dare to call on him 
as our Father. He now again refers to the second part, 
invocation, and says, that we are taught by the same Spirit 
how to pray, and what to ask in our prayers. And appro- 
priately has he annexed prayers to the anxious desires of 
the faithful ; for God does not afflict them with miseries, 
that they may inwardly feed on hidden grief, but that they 
may disburden themselves by prayer, and thus exercise their 

At the same time I know, that there are various exposi- 
tions of this passage j 1 but Paul seems to me to have simply 
meant this, — That we are blind in our addresses to God ; for 
though we feel our evils, yet our minds are more disturbed 
and confused than that they can rightly choose what is meet 
and expedient. If any one makes this objection — that a 
rule is prescribed to us in God's word ; to this I answer, 
that our thoughts nevertheless continue oppressed with 
darkness, until the Spirit guides them by his light. 

But the Sjnrit himself intercedes, 2 &c. Though really or 
by the event it does not appear that our prayers have 

1 The opinions of Chrysostom, Ambrose, and Origen, are given by 
Pareus ; and they are all different, and not much to the purpose. The 
view which Augustine gives is materially what is stated here. He gives a 
causative sense to the verb in the next clause, " Interpellare nos facit — he 
causes us to ask." — Ed. 

2 " Intercedit — viri£ivrwyx<**ti — abundantly intercedes," for so im^, pre- 
fixed to verbs, is commonly rendered. This is the proper action of an 
advocate, a name given to the Spirit by our Saviour, aXXov va^aKXnrov — 
" another advocate," not " comforter," as in our version ; and Christ is 
called by the same name in 1 John ii. 1, and the same work, " interced- 
ing," is ascribed to him, Heb. vii. 25. But we learn in John xiv. 16, that 
the Spirit is an advocate with us — " that he may abide with you for ever ;" 
and in 1 John ii. 1, that Christ is an advocate in heaven — " with the 
Father." The same name and a similar kind of. work are ascribed to 
both. . Some, as Doddridge, to avoid the blending the offices of the two, 
have rendered the verb here by a different term, but not wisely. — Ed. 


been heard by God, yet Paul concludes, that the presence 
of the celestial favour does already shine forth in the 
desire for prayer ; for no one can of himself give birth to 
devout and godly aspirations. The unbelieving do indeed 
blab out their prayers, but they only trifle with God ; for 
there is in them nothing sincere, or serious, or rightly 
formed. Hence the manner of praying aright must be sug- 
gested by the Spirit : and he calls those groanings unutter- 
able, into which we break forth by the impulse of the Spirit, 
for this reason — because they far exceed the capability of 
our own minds. 1 And the Spirit is said to intercede, not 
because he really humbles himself to pray or to groan, but 
because he stirs up in our hearts those desires which we 
ought to entertain ; and he also affects our hearts in such 
a way that these desires by their fervency penetrate into 
heaven itself. And Paul has thus spoken, that he might 
more significantly ascribe the whole to the grace of the 
Spirit. We are indeed bidden to knock ; but no one can of 
himself premeditate even one syllable, except God by the 
secret impulse of his Spirit knocks at our door, and thus 
opens for himself our hearts. 

27. But he who searches hearts, &c. This is a remarkable 
reason for strengthening our confidence, that we are heard 
by God when we pray through his Spirit, for he thoroughly 
knows our desires, even as the thoughts of his own Spirit. 
And here must be noticed the suitableness of the word to 
know ; for it intimates that God regards not these emotions 
of the Spirit as new and strange, or that he rejects them as 
unreasonable, but that he allows them, and at the same time 
kindly accepts them, as allowed and approved by him. As 

1 Or, " the comprehension of our mind — ingenii nostri captnm." 
Schleusner says, that the word aXaXriro?, has been improperly rendered in- 
effable or unutterable, and that the word to express such an idea is «►£*- 
XaXjjros, (1 Pet. i. 8,) and that from the analogy of the Greek language 
it must mean, " what is not uttered or spoken by the mouth ;" and he 
gives axlvuTov, " what is not moved," as an instance. Bos and Grotius 
give the same meaning, " sine voce — without voice ;" and the latter says, 
that this was expressly said, because the Jews entertained a notion that 
there could be no prayer except it was expressed by the lips. It is how- 
ever considered by most to have the meaning given here, " inutterable," 
or ineffable, or inexpressible. — Ed. 


then Paul had before testified, that God then aids us when 
he draws us as it were into his own bosom, so now he adds 
another consolation, that our prayers, of which he is the 
director, shall by no means be disappointed. The reason 
also is immediately added, because he thus conforms us to 
his own will. It hence follows, that in vain can never be 
what is agreeable to his will, by which all things are ruled. 
Let us also hence learn, that what holds the first place in 
prayer is consent with the will of the Lord, whom our wishes 
do by no means hold under obligation. If then we would 
have our prayers to be acceptable to God, we must pray 
that he may regulate them according to his will. 

28. And we know that all things 28. Novimus autem quod iis qui 
work together for good to them that diligunt Deum omnia cooperantur in 
love God, to them who are the called bonum, iis scilicet qui secundum pro- 
according to his purpose. positum vocati sunt sancti. 

29. For whom he did foreknow, 29. Quoniam quos prsecognovit 
he also did predestinate to be con- etiam prsefinivit conformes imaginis 
formed to the image of his Son, that Filii sui, ut sit ipse primogenitus 
he might he the firstborn among inter multos fratres : 

many brethren. 

30. Moreover, whom he did pre- 30. Quos vero prafinivit, eos et 
destinate, them he also called ; and vocavit ; et quos vocavit, eos etiam 
whom he called, them he also justi- justificavit ; et quos justificavit, eos 
fied ; and whom he justified, them etiam glorificavit. 

he also glorified. 

28. And we know, &c. He now draws this conclusion 
from what had been said, that so far are the troubles of this 
life from hindering our salvation, that, on the contrary, they 
are helps to it. It is no objection that he sets down an 
illative particle, for it is no new thing with him to make 
somewhat an indiscriminate use of adverbs, and yet this 
conclusion includes what anticipates an objection. For the 
judgment of the flesh in this case exclaims, that it by no 
means appears that God hears our prayers, since our afflic- 
tions continue the same. Hence the Apostle anticipates 
this and says, that though God does not immediately succour 
his people, he yet does not forsake them, for by a wonderful 
contrivance he turns those things which seem to be evils in 
such a way as to promote their salvation. If any one pre- 
fers to read this verse by itself, as though Paul proceeded 
to a new argument in order to show that adversities which 


assist our salvation, ought not to be borne as hard and 
grievous things, I do not object. At the same time, the 
design of Paul is not doubtful : " Though the elect and the 
reprobate are indiscriminately exposed to similar evils, there 
is yet a great difference ; for God trains up the faithful by 
afflictions, and thereby promotes their salvation." 

But we must remember that Paul speaks here only of 
adversities, as though he had said, " All things which 
happen to the saints are so overruled by God, that what the 
world regards as evil, the issue shows to be good." For 
though what Augustine says is true, that even the sins of 
the saints are, through the guiding providence of God, so 
far from doing harm to them, that, on the contrary, they 
serve to advance their salvation ; yet this belongs not to this 
passage, the subject of which is the cross. 

It must also be observed, that he includes the whole of 
true religion in the love of God, as on it depends the whole 
practice of righteousness. 

Even to them who according to his purpose, &c. This 
clause seems to have been added as a modification, lest any 
one should think that the faithful, because they love God, 
obtain by their own merit the advantage of deriving such 
fruit from their adversities. We indeed know that when 
salvation is the subject, men are disposed to begin with them- 
selves, and to imagine certain preparations by which they 
would anticipate the favour of God. Hence Paul teaches 
us, that those whom he had spoken of as loving God, had 
been previously chosen by him. For it is certain that the 
order is thus pointed out, that we may know that it proceeds 
from the gratuitous adoption of God, as from the first cause, 
that all things happen to the saints for their salvation. Nay, 
Paul shows that the faithful do not love God before they are 
called by him, as in another place he reminds us that the 
Galatians were known of God before they knew him. (Gal. 
iv. 9.) It is indeed true what Paul intimates, that afflic- 
tions avail not to advance the salvation of any but of those 
who love God ; but that saying of John is equally true, that 
then only he is begun to be loved by us, when he anticipates 
us by his gratuitous love. 


But the calling of which Paul speaks here, has a wide 
meaning, for it is not to be confined to the manifestation of 
election, of which mention is presently made, but is to be 
set simply in opposition to the course pursued by men ; as 
though Paul had said, — " The faithful attain not religion by 
their own efforts, but are, on the contrary, led by the hand 
of God, inasmuch as he has chosen them to be a peculiar 
people to himself." The word purpose distinctly excludes 
whatever is imagined to be adduced mutually by men ; as 
though Paul had denied, that the causes of our election are 
to be sought anywhere else, except in the secret good plea- 
sure of God ; which subject is more fully handled in the first 
chapter to the Ephesians, and in the first of the Second 
Epistle to Timothy ; where also the contrast between this 
purpose and human righteousness is more distinctly set 
forth. 1 Paul, however, no doubt made here this express de- 
claration, — that our salvation is based on the election of 
God, in order that he might make a transition to that which 
he immediately subjoined, namely, that by the same celestial 
decree, the afflictions, which conform us to Christ, have been 
appointed ; and he did this for the purpose of connecting, as 
by a kind of necessary chain, our salvation with the bearing 
of the cross. 

29. For whom he has foreknown, &c. He then shows, by 
the very order of election, that the afflictions of the faithful 

1 Hammond has a long note on the expression, ««to -rgofefiv, and quotes 
Cyril of Jerusalem, Clemens of Alexandria, and Theophylact, as rendering 
the words, " according to their purpose," that is, those who love God, — a 
construction of itself strange, and wholly alien to the whole tenor of the 
passage, and to the use of the word in most other instances. Paul has 
never used the word, except in one instance, (2 Tim. hi. 10,) but with re- 
ference to God's purpose or decree, — see ch. ix. 11 : Eph. i. 11 ; iii. 11 ; 
2 Tim. i. 9. It seems that Chrysostom, Origen, Theodoret, and other 
Fathers, have given the same singularly strange explanation. But in 
opposition to these, Poole mentions Ambrose, Augustine, and even Jerome, 
as regarding " the purpose " here as that of God : in which opinion almost 
all modern Divines agree. 

Orotius very justly observes, that xXnro), the called, according to the 
language of Paul, mean those who obey the call, (qui vocanti obediunt,) 
and refers to ch. i. 6 ; 1 Cor. i. 24 ; Rev. xvii. 14. And Stuart says that 
the word has this meaning throughout the New Testament, except in two 
instances, Matt. xx. 16, and xxii. 14, where it means, invited. He there- 
fore considers it as equivalent to 'inXixroi, chosen, elected, or true Chris- 
tians. — Ed. 


are nothing else than the manner by which they are con- 
formed to the image of Christ ; and that this was necessary, 
he had before declared. There is therefore no reason for us 
to be grieved, or to' think it hard and grievous, that we are 
afflicted, unless we disapprove of the Lord's election, by 
which we have been foreordained to life, and unless we are 
unwilling to bear the image of the Son of God, by which we 
are to be prepared for celestial glory. 

But the foreknowledge of God, which Paul mentions, is 
not a bare prescience, as some unwise persons absurdly 
imagine, but the adoption by which he had always distin- 
guished his children from the reprobate. 1 In the same sense 
Peter says, that the faithful had been elected to the sancti- 
fication of the Spirit according to the foreknowledge of God. 
Hence those, to whom I have alluded, foolishly draw this 

1 Much controversy has been about the meaning of the verb -z-goiyva, in 
this place. Many of the Fathers, such as Jerome, Chrysostom, and Theo- 
doret, regarded it in the sense of simple prescience, as having reference to 
those who would believe and obey the gospel. The verb is found only in 
this place, and in the following passages, chap. xi. 2 ; Acts xxvi. 5 ; 1 Pet. 
i. 20 ; and 2 Pet. iii. 17. In the second, and in the last passage, it signi- 
fies merely a previous knowledge or acquaintance, and refers to men. In 
1 Pet. i. 20, it is applied to Christ as having been " foreordained," accord- 
ing to our version, " before the foundation of the world." In this Epistle, 
chap. xi. 2, it refers to God, — " God hath not cast away his people whom 
he foreknew ;" and according to the context, it means the same as elected ; 
for the Apostle speaks of what God did " according to the election of 
grace," and not according to foreseen faith. 

The noun derived from it is found in two places, Acts ii. 23, and 1 Pet. 
i. 2. In the first it evidently means decree, foreordination, and in the 
second, the same ; where it is said, that those addressed by the Apostle 
were elected, " according to the foreknowledge of God, Kara, vrgoyvaim, ®iou t 
through the sanctitication of the Spirit, unto obedience ;" they were not 
then elected, according to God's foreknowledge or foreordination, because 
of their obedience. This entirely subverts the gloss put on the verb in 
this passage. 

The usual meaning given to the verb here is fore-approved, or chosen. 
Grotius, Turrettin, and others, consider that yivu<rx&> has the same mean- 
ing with the verb JTP, in Hebrew, which is sometimes that of approving or 
favouring, or regarding with love and approbation. So the compound verb 
may be rendered here, " whom he fore-approved, or foreknew," as the 
objects of his choice : and this idea is what alone comports with the rest of 
the passage. 

Stuart prefers another meaning, and that which it seems to have in 
1 Pet. i. 20, " foreordained." He says that yivdo-xa means sometimes to 
will, to determine, to ordain, to decree, and brings examples from Josephus, 
Plutarch, and Polybius. Then the compound verb would be here, " whom 
he foreordained," or foredetermined. — Ed. 


inference, — That God has elected none but those whom he 
foresaw would be worthy of his grace. Peter does not in- 
deed flatter the faithful, as though every one had been 
elected on account of his merit ; but by reminding them of 
the eternal counsel of God, he wholly deprives them of all 
worthiness. So Paul does in this passage, who repeats by 
another word what he had said before of God's purpose. It 
hence follows, that this knowledge is connected with God's 
good pleasure ; for he foreknew nothing out of himself, in 
adopting those whom he was pleased to adopt ; but only 
marked out those whom he had purposed to elect. 

The verb irpoopl^etv, which some translate, to 'predestinate, 
is to be understood according to what this passage requires ; 
for Paul only meant, that God had so determined that all 
whom he has adopted should bear the image of Christ ; nor 
lias he simply said, that they were to be conformed to Christ, 
but to the image of Christ, that he might teach us that there 
is in Christ a living and conspicuous exemplar, which is ex- 
hibited to God's children for imitation. The meaning then 
is, that gratuitous adoption, in which our salvation consists, 
is inseparable from the other decree, which determines that 
we are to bear the cross ; for no one can be an heir of heaven 
without being conformed to the image of the only-begotten 
Son of God. 

That he may be, or, that he might be, the first-born, &c. ; 
for the Greek infinitive, elvcu, may be rendered in these two 
ways ; but I prefer the first rendering. But in mentioning 
Christ's primogeniture, Paul meant only to express this, — ■ 
that since Christ possesses a pre-eminence among the chil- 
dren of God, he is rightly given to us as a pattern, so that we 
ought to refuse nothing which he has been pleased to under- 
go. Hence, that the celestial Father may in every way bear 
testimony to the authority and honour which he has con- 
ferred on his own Son, he will have all those whom he adopts 
to be the heirs of his kingdom, to be conformed to his ex- 
ample. Though indeed the condition of the godly is appa- 
rently various, as there is a difference between the members 
of the same body, there is yet a connection between every 
one and his own head. As then the first-born sustains the 


name of the family, so Christ is placed in a state of pre- 
eminence, not only that he might excel in honour among 
the faithful, but also that he might include all under him- 
self under the common name of brotherhood. 

30. And whom he has foredetermined, (praefinivit,) them 
has he also called, &c. That he might now by a clearer proof 
show how true it is that a conformity with the humiliating 
state of Christ is for our good, he adopts a graduating pro- 
cess, by which he teaches us, that a participation of the 
cross is so connected with our vocation, justification, and, in 
short, with our future glory, that they can by no means be 

But that readers may better understand the Apostle's 
meaning, it may be well to repeat what I have already said, 
— that the word predetermine does not refer to election, 
but to that purpose or decree of God by which he has 
ordained that the cross is to be borne by his people ; and by 
declaring that they are now called, he intimates, that God 
had not kept concealed what he had determined respecting 
them, but had made it known, that they might resignedly 
and humbly submit to the condition allotted to them ; for 
calling here is to be distinguished from secret election, as 
being posterior to it. That none then may make this objec- 
tion — that it appears to no one what lot God has appointed 
for him, the Apostle says, that God by his calling bears an 
evident testimony respecting his hidden purpose. But this 
testimony is not only found in the outwai'd preaching of the 
gospel, but it has also the power of the Spirit connected with 
it ; for the elect are there spoken of, whom God not only 
addresses by the outward word, but whom he also inwardly 

Justification may fitly be extended to the unremitted 
continuance of God's favour, from the time of our calling to 
the hour of death ; but as Paul uses this word throughout 
the Epistle, for gratuitous imputation of righteousness, there 
is no necessity for us to deviate from this meaning. What 
Paul indeed had in view was to show that a more precious 
compensation is offered to us, than what ought to allow us 
to shun afflictions ; for what is more desirable than to be 


reconciled to God, so that our miseries may no longer be 
tokens of a curse, nor lead us to ruin ? 

He then immediately adds, that those who are now pressed 
down by the cross shall be glorified ; so that their sorrows 
and reproaches shall bring them no loss. Though glorifica- 
tion is not yet exhibited except in our Head, yet as we in 
a manner behold in him our inheritance of eternal life, his 
glory brings to us such assurance respecting our own glory, 
that our hope may be justly compared to a present possession. 

We may add, that Paul, imitating the style of the Hebrew 
language, adopts in these verbs the past instead of the pre- 
sent tense. 1 A continued act is no doubt what is meant, 
according to this import, " Those whom God now, consist- 
ently with his purpose, exercises under the cross, are called 
and justified, that they may have a hope of salvation, so that 
nothing of their glory decays during their humiliation ; for 
though their present miseries deform it before the world, yet 
before God and angels it always shines forth as perfect." 
What Paul then means by this gradation is, That the afflic- 
tions of the faithful, by which they are now humbled, are 
intended for this end — that the faithful, having obtained 
the glory of the celestial kingdom, may reach the glory of 
Christ's resurrection, with whom they are now crucified. 

31. What shall we then say to 31. Quid ergo dicemus ad hsec? a 
these things ? If God be for us, who Si Deus pro nobis, quis contra 
can be against us ? nos ? 

32. He that spared not his own 32. Qui proprio Filio non peper- 
Son, but delivered him up for us all, cit, sed pro nobis omnibus tradidit, 
how shall he not with him also freely quomodo non etiam cum eo donaret 
give us all things ? nobis omnia ? 

33. Who shall lay any thing to 33. Quis intentabit crimina 3 ad- 
the charge of God's elect? It is God versus electos Dei? Deus est qui 
that justifieth. justificat. 

1 Turrettin gives somewhat a different reason : " Paul speaks of these 
things as past, because they are as already done in God's decree, and in 
order to show the certainty of their accomplishment." 

2 " Ad hsec," — <rg« tuZto,. Wolfius says, that it shoidd be " de his — 
of these things;" and Heb. iv. 13, is quoted as an instance, " ve.°s on hfut b 
xiyos — of whom we speak." — Ed. 

a " Quis intentabit crimina — who shall charge crimes ;" " rit lyxaXivu 
xara IkXiktuv ®it>u — who shall implead, or bring a charge against the elect 
of God ?" See Acts xix. 38. 

Many, such as Augustine, Grotius, Locke, Doddridge, and Griesbach, 


34. Who is he that condemneth ? 34. Quis ille qui condemnet ? 

It is Christ that died, yea rather, Christus est qui mortuus est, quin 

that is risen again, who is even at potius etiam suscitatus, qui et in 

the right hand of God, who also dextera Patris est, qui et intercedit 

maketh intercession for us. pro nobis. 

31. What then, &c. The subject discussed having been 
sufficiently proved, he now breaks out into exclamations, by 
which he sets forth the magnanimity with which the faithful 
ought to be furnished when adversities urge them to de- 
spond. And he teaches us in these words that with the 
paternal favour of God is connected that invincible courage 
which overcomes all temptations. We indeed know, that 
judgment is usually formed of the love or of the hatred of 
God, in no other way than by a view of our present state ; 
hence when things fall out untowardly, sorrow takes posses- 
sion of our minds, and drives away all confidence and con- 
solation. But Paul loudly exclaims, that a deeper principle 
ought to be inquired after, and that they reason absurdly 
who confine themselves to the sad spectacle of our present 
warfare. I indeed allow, that the scourges of God are in 
themselves justly deemed to be tokens of God's wrath ; but 
as they are consecrated in Christ, Paul bids the saints to lay 
hold, above all things, on the paternal love of God, that re- 
lying on this shield they may boldly triumph over all evils ; 
for this is a brazen wall to us, so that while God is propitious 
to us we shall be safe against all dangers. He does not, 
however, mean, that nothing shall oppose us ; but he pro- 
mises a victory over all kinds of enemies. 

If God be for us, &c. This is the chief and the only sup- 
port which can sustain us in every temptation. For except 
we have God propitious to us, though all things should 
smile on us, yet no sure confidence can be attained: but, 

have made the next clause also a question ; and also the clauses in the next 
verse. There is not much difference in the sense, but the passage will 
thus appear more striking, — 

33. Who will lay a charge against God's elect? God the justifier? 

34. Who is he who condemns ? Christ who died, or rather who rose 
again, who is also at God's right hand, and who intercedes for us ? 

What favours this construction is, that the Apostle proceeds in the same 
strain. — Ed. 


on the other hand, his favour alone is a sufficient solace in 
every sorrow, a protection sufficiently strong against all the 
storms of adversities. And on this subject there are many 
testimonies of Scripture, which show that when the saints 
rely on the power of God alone, they dare to despise what- 
ever is opposed to them in the world. " When I walk in 
the midst of the shadow of death, I shall not fear evils, for 
thou art with me." (Ps. xxiii. 4.) "In the Lord I trust: 
what shall flesh do to me." (Ps. lvi. 11.) " I shall not fear 
the thousands of the people who beset me." (Ps. iii. 6.) 
For there is no power either under or above the heavens, 
which can resist the arm of God. Having him then as our 
defender, we need fear no harm whatever. Hence he alone 
shows real confidence in God, who being content with his 
protection, dreads nothing in such a way as to despond ; the 
faithful are doubtless often shaken but are never utterly cast 
down. In short, the Apostle's object was to show, that the 
godly soul ought to rely on the inward testimony of the 
Holy Spirit, and. not to depend on outward things. 

32. He who has not spared his own Son, &c. As it greatly 
concerns us to be so thoroughly persuaded of the paternal 
love of God, as to be able to retain our rejoicing on its ac- 
count, Paul brings forward the price of our redemption in 
order to prove that God favours us : and doubtless it is a 
remarkable and clear evidence of inappreciable love, that the 
Father refused not to bestow his Son for our salvation. And 
so Paul draws an argument from the greater to the less, 
that as he had nothing dearer, or more precious, or more 
excellent than his Son, he will neglect nothing of what he 
foresees will be profitable to us. 1 

This passage ought to remind us of what Christ brings to 
us, and to awaken us to contemplate his riches ; for as he is 
a pledge of God's infinite love towards us, so he has not been 

1 Calvin renders x tt -Z' ffiTa ' by " donaret ;" Capcllus more fully, " gratis 
donabit — will gratuitously give." Christ himself, and everything that 
comes with or through him, is a favour freely bestowed, and not what we 
merit. This shuts out, as Pareus observes, everything as meritorious on 
the part of man. All is grace. The "all things" include every thing 
necessary for salvation — every grace now and eternal glory hereafter. — Ed. 


sent to us void of blessings or empty, but filled with all 
celestial treasures, so that they who possess him may not 
want anything necessary for their perfect felicity. To de- 
liver up means hero to expose to death. 

33. Who shall bring an accusation, &c. The first and 
the chief consolation of the godly in adversities, is to be fully 
persuaded of the paternal kindness of God ; for hence arises 
the certainty of their salvation, and that calm quietness of 
the soul through which it comes that adversities are sweet- 
ened, or at least the bitterness of sorrow mitigated. Hardly 
then a more suitable encouragement to patience could be ad- 
duced than this, a conviction that God is propitious to us ; 
and hence Paul makes this confidence the main ground of 
that consolation, by which it behoves the faithful to be 
strengthened against all evils. And as the salvation of man 
is first assailed by accusation, and then subverted by con- 
demnation, he in the first place averts the danger of accusa- 
tion. There is indeed but one God, at whose tribunal we 
must stand ; then there is no room for accusation when he 
justifies us. The antithetic clauses seem not indeed to be 
exactly arranged ; for the two parts which ought rather to 
have been set in opposition to each other are these : " Who 
shall accuse ? Christ is he who intercedes :" and then these 
two might have been connected, " Who shall condemn ? God 
is he who justifies ;" for God's absolution answers to con- 
demnation, and Christ's intercession to accusation. But 
Paul has not without reason made another arrangement, as 
he was anxious to arm the children of God, as they say, 
from head to foot, with that confidence which banishes all 
anxieties and fears. He then more emphatically concludes, 
that the children of God are not subject to an accusation, 
because God justifies, than if he had said that Christ is our 
advocate ; for he more fully expresses that the way to a trial 
is more completely closed up when the judge himself pro- 
nounces him wholly exempt from guilt, whom the accuser 
would bring in as deserving of punishment. There is also a 
similar reason for the second clause ; for he shows that the 
faithful are very far from being involved in the danger of 
condemnation, since Christ by expiating their sins has an- 


ticipated the judgment of God, and by his intercession not 
only abolishes death, but also covers our sins in oblivion, so 
that they come not to an account. 

The drift of the whole is, that we arc not only freed from 
terror by present remedies, but that God comes to our aid 
beforehand, that he may better provide for our confidence. 

But it must be here observed, as we have before reminded 
you, that to be justified, according to Paul, is to be absolved 
by the sentence of God, and to be counted just ; and it is 
not difficult to prove this from the present passage, in which 
he reasons by affirming one thing which nullifies its opposite ; 
for to absolve and to regard persons as guilty, are contrary 
things. Hence God will allow no accusation against us, be- 
cause he has absolved us from all sins. The devil no doubt 
is an accuser of all the godly : the very law of God and 
their own conscience convict them ; but all these prevail 
nothing with the judge, who justifies them. Therefore no 
adversary can shake or endanger our salvation. 

Further, he so mentions the elect, as one who doubted not 
but that he was of their number ; and he knew this, not by 
special revelation, (as some sophists falsely imagine,) but by 
a perception (sensu — feeling) common to all the godly. What 
then is here said of the elect, every one of the godly, accord- 
ing to the example of Paul, may apply to himself; for this 
doctrine would have been not only frigid, but wholly lifeless, 
had he buried election in the secret purpose of God. But 
when we know, that there is here designedly set before us 
what every one of the godly ought to appropriate to him- 
self, there is no doubt but that we are all encouraged to ex- 
amine our calling, so that we may become assured that we 
are the children of God. 

34, Who is he that condemns ? &c. As no one by accusing 
can prevail, when the judge absolves ; so there remains no 
condemnation, when satisfaction is given to the laws, and 
the penalty is already paid. Now Christ is he, who, having 
once for all suffered the punishment due to us, thereby de- 
clared that he undertook our cause, in order to deliver us : 
he then who seeks hereafter to condemn us, must bring back 
Christ himself to death again. But he has not only died, 


but also came forth, by a resurrection, as the conqueror of 
death, and triumphed over all its power. 

He adds still more, — that he now sits at the right hand 
of the Father ; by which is meant, that he possesses domi- 
nion over heaven and earth, and full power and rule over 
all things, according to what is said in Eph. i. 20. He 
teaches us also, that he thus sits, that he may be a perpe- 
tual advocate and intercessor in securing our salvation. It 
hence follows, that when any one seeks to condemn us, he 
not only seeks to render void the death of Christ, but also 
contends with that unequalled power with which the Father 
has honoured him, and who with that power conferred on him 
supreme authority. This so great an assurance, which dares 
to triumph over the devil, death, sin, and the gates of hell, 
ought to lodge deep in the hearts of all the godly ; for our 
faith is nothing, except we feel assured that Christ is ours, 
and that the Father is in him projDitious to us. Nothing 
then can be devised more pestilent and ruinous, than the 
scholastic dogma respecting the uncertainty of salvation. 

Who intercedes, &c. It was necessary expressly to add 
this, lest the Divine majesty of Christ should terrify us. 
Though, then, from his elevated throne he holds all things 
in subjection under his feet, yet Paul represents him as a 
Mediator ; whose presence it would be strange for us to 
dread, since he not only kindly invites us to himself^ but 
also appears an intercessor for us before the Father. But 
we must not measure this intercession by our carnal judg- 
ment ; for we must not suppose that he humbly supplicates 
the Father with bended knees and expanded hands ; but as 
he appears continually, as one who died and rose again, and 
as his death and resurrection stand in the place of eternal 
intercession, and have the efficacy of a powerful prayer for 
reconciling and rendering the Father propitious to us, he is 
justly said to intercede for us. 

35. Who shall separate us from 35. Quis nos dirimet 1 a dileetione 
the love of Christ ? shall tribulation, Christi ? tribulatio, an angustia, an 

1 " Dirimet — break us off," divide or part us ; x a Z L(ri ' — set apart, sever, 
separate : rfe, « who," may be rendered, " what," as ""lO in Hebrew. It is 
not put, it may be, in the neuter gender, because of the gender of the nouns 


or distress, or persecution, or famine, persequutio, an fames, an nuditas, 

or nakedness, or peril, or sword ? an periculum, an gladius ? 

36. As it is written, For thy sake 36. Quemadmodum scriptum est, 
we are killed all the day long ; we are Quod propter te morimur quotidie, 
accounted as sheep for the slaughter, reputati sumus tanquam oves mac- 

tationi destinatse : 

37. Nay, in all these things we are 37. Sed in iis omnibus super- 
more than conquerors, through him vincimus per eum qui dilexit nos. 
that loved us. 

35. Who shall separate us, &c. The conviction of safety 
is now more widely extended, even to lower things ; for he 
who is persuaded of God's kindness towards him, is able to 
stand firm in the heaviest afflictions. These usually harass 
men in no small degree, and for various reasons, — because 
they interpret them as tokens of God's wrath, or think them- 
selves to be forsaken by God, or see no end to them, or 
neglect to meditate on a better life, or for other similar rea- 
sons ; but when the mind is purged from such mistakes, it 
becomes calm, and quietly rests. But the import of the 
words is, — That whatever happens, we ought to stand firm 
in this faith, — that God, who once in his love embraced us, 
never ceases to care for us. For he does not simply say 
that there is nothing which can tear God away from his love 
to us ; but he means, that the knowledge and lively sense 
of the love which he testifies to us is so vigorous in our 
hearts, that it always shines in the darkness of afflictions: 
for as clouds, though they obscure the clear brightness of 
the sun, do not yet wholly deprive us of its light ; so God, in 
adversities, sends forth through the darkness the rays of his 
favour, lest temptations should overwhelm us with despair ; 
nay, our faith, supported by God's promises as by wings, 
makes its way upward to heaven through all the interven- 
ing obstacles. It is indeed true, that adversities are tokens 
of God's wrath, when viewed in themselves ; but when par- 
don and reconciliation precede, we ought to be assured that 
God, though he chastises us, yet never forgets his mercy: he 

which follow. As the Hebrews use often the future for the potential mood, 
so the case may be here — " What can separate us from the love of Christ ? 
tribulation, or distress ?" &c. It ought also to be added, that the verb 
" separate," is used to designate divorce or separation between man and his 
wife. See Matt. xix. 6 ; 1 Cor. vii. 20, 11, 15.— Ed. 


indeed thus reminds us of what we have deserved ; hut he 
no less testifies, that our salvation is an ohject of his care, 
while he leads us to repentance. 

But he calls it the love of Christ, and for this reason, — 
because the Father has in a manner opened his compassions 
to us in him. As then the love of God is not to be sought 
out of Christ, Paul rightly directs to him our attention, so 
that our faith may behold, in the rays of Christ's favour, 
the serene countenance of the Father. The meaning is, — 
that in no adversities ought our confidence to be shaken as 
to this truth — that when God is propitious, nothing can be 
adverse to us. Some take this love in a passive sense, for 
that by which he is loved by us, as though Paul would have 
us armed with invincible courage ; x but this comment may 
be easily disproved by the whole tenor of Paul's reasoning ; 
and Paul himself will presently remove all doubt by defining 
more clearly what this love is. 

Tribulation, or distress, or persecution ? &c. The pronoun 
masculine which he used at the beginning of the verse, con- 
tains a hidden power : for when he might have adopted the 
neuter gender and said — " What shall separate us ?" &c, he 
preferred ascribing personality to things without life, and 
for this end, — that he might send forth with us into the 
contest as many champions as there are of temptations to 
try our faith. 

1 According to Poole, several of the Fathers entertained this opinion, 
such as Origen, Chrysostom, Theodoret, and Ambrose: but even Harnm ond 
and Grotius, great admirers of the Fathers, regard this love as that of 
God or of Christ to us. Wolfius says., that all the Lutheran divines give 
this exposition. It is indeed impossible rightly to view the whole passage 
without seeing that this explanation is the true one. In verse 32, it is in- 
contestably evident that God's love to us is what is spoken of: then in 
verse 37, it is expressly said, " through him who loved us ;" and the last 
verse seems sufficient to remove every possible doubt. The difficulty of 
Barnes, in thinking it " not conceivable how afflictions should have any 
tendency to alienate Christ's love from us," arises from a misconception : 
for when we speak of not being separated from the love of Christ, the ob- 
vious meaning is, that nothing can separate us from participating in the 
eifects of his love, that He, on account of his love, will sustain us under 
the greatest trials, and make " us more than conquerors." The substance 
of what is here said, is contained in the last clause of verse 32, — " How 
shall he not with him also freely give us all things ? " It was the assur- 
ance of this truth that the Apostle obviously intended to convey. — Ed. 


But these three things have this difference : tribulation 
includes every kind of trouble or evil ; distress is an inward 
feeling, when difficulties reduce us to such an extremity, so 
that we know not what course to pursue. Such was the 
anxiety of Abraham and of Lot, when one was constrained 
to expose his wife to the danger of prostitution, and the 
other, his daughters ; for being brought to straits and being- 
perplexed, they found no way of escape. Persecution pro- 
perly denotes the tyrannical violence by which the children 
of God were undeservedly harassed by the ungodly. Now 
though Paul denies in 2 Cor. iv. 8, that the children of God 
are reduced to straits, o-revo-^copeio-Oai, he does not yet dis- 
agree with himself; for he does not simply make them to 
be exempt from anxious solicitude, but he means that they 
are delivered from it, as also the examples of Abraham and 
Lot testify. 

36. As it is written, &c. This testimony adds no small 
weight to the subject ; for he intimates, that the dread of 
death is so far from being a reason to us for falling away, 
that it has been almost ever the lot of God's servants to have 
death as it were present before their eyes. It is indeed pro- 
bable, that in that Psalm the miserable oppression of the 
people under the tyranny of Antiochus is described ; for it 
is expressly said, that the worshippers of God were cruelly 
treated, for no other reason but through hatred to true reli- 
gion. There is also added a remarkable protestation, that 
they had not departed from the covenant of God ; which 
Paul, I think, had especially in view. It is no objection 
that the saints there complain of a calamity which then un- 
usually pressed on them; for since they show, that they 
were oppressed with so many evils, having before testified 
their innocence, an argument is hence fitly drawn, that it is 
no new thing for the Lord to permit his saints to be unde- , 
servedly exposed to the cruelty of the ungodly. But this is 
not done except for their good ; for the Scripture teaches 
us, that it is alien to the righteousness of God to destroy the 
just with the wicked, (Gen. xviii. 23) ; but that, on the con- 
trary, it is meet for him to requite affliction to those who 
afflict, and rest to those who arc afflicted. (2 Thess. i. 6, 9.) 


And then they affirm that they suffer for the Lord ; and 
Christ pronounces them blessed who suffer for the sake of 
righteousness. (Matt. v. 10.) By saying that they died daily, 
they intimated that death was so suspended over them, that 
their life differed but little from death. 

37. We do more than conquer, &c. ; that is, we always 
struggle and emerge. I have retained the word used by 
Paul, 1 though not commonly used by the Latins. It indeed 
sometimes happens that the faithful seem to succumb and 
to lie forlorn ; and thus the Lord not only tries, but also 
humbles them. This issue is however given to them, — that 
they obtain the victory. 

That they might at the same time remember whence this 
invincible ' power proceeds, he again repeats what he had 
said before : for he not only teaches us that God, because 
he loves us, supports us by his hand ; but he also confirms 
the same truth by mentioning the love of Christ. 2 And this 
one sentence sufficiently proves, that the Apostle speaks not 
S here of the fervency of that love which we have towards 
(rod, but of the paternal kindness of God and of Christ to- 
wards us, the assurance of which, being thoroughly fixed in 
ourXhearts, will always draw us from the gates of hell into 
the liyrht of life, and will sufficiently avail for our support. 

1 " St pervincimus " — b*te?ix.Zp.i? ; Bezel's version is, " amplius quam 
victores lumus;" Macknight's, " we do more than overcome;" Schleusner 
gives this as one of his explanations, " plenissime vincimus — we most fully 
overcome." Paul commonly uses »«j in an enhansive sense ; so the ver- 
sion may be, " we abundantly overcome," as though he said, " We have 
strength given us which far exceeds the power of evils." Some say that 
the faithful abundantly overcome, because they sustain no real loss, but like 
silver in the furnace, they lose only their dross ; and not only so, but they 
also carry, as it were from the field of battle, rich spoils — the fruits of holi- 
ness and righteousness. Heb. xii. 10, 11. It is further said, that the 
victory will be this, — that Christ, who has loved them, will raise them from 
death and adorn them with that glory, with which all the evils of this life 
are not worthy to be compared. 

Beza says, " Not only we are not broken down by so many evils nor 
despond, but we even glory in the cross." — Ed. 

2 " Per eum qui dilexit nos — S;« mv aya^naavro; -hpus — through him 
who has loved us." The aorist participle, says Wolfius, extends to 
every time, " who has loved and loves and will love us." From the fact 
that believers are overcome by no calamities, he draws the inference, that 
God's love is constant and most effectual, so that he is present with the 
distressed to give them courage, to strengthen their patience, and to mo- 
derate their calamities. See 1 Pet. v. 10. — Ed. 


38. For I am persuaded, that 38. Persuasus enimsum, quodne- 
neither death, nor life, nor angels, que mors, neque vita, 1 neque angeli, 
nor principalities, nor powers, nor neque principatus, neque virtutes, 
things present, nor things to come, neque pnesentia, neque futura, 

39. Nor height, nor depth, nor 39. Neque altitudo, neque pro- 
any other creature, shall be able to funditas, neque ulla alia creatura, 
separate us from the love of God, poterit nos dirimere a charitate Dei, 
which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. qure est in Christo Iesu. 

38. He is now carried away into hyperbolic expressions, 
that he might confirm us more fully in those things which 
are to be experienced. Whatever, he says, there is in life or 
in death, which seems capable of tearing us away from God, 
shall effect nothing ; nay, the very angels, were they to at- 
tempt to overturn this foundation, shall do us no harm. It 
is no objection, that angels are ministering spirits, appointed 
for the salvation of the elect, (Heb. i. 14:) for Paul reasons 
here on what is impossible, as he does in Gal. i. 8 ; and we 
may hence observe, that all things ought to be deemed of no 
worth, compared with the glory of God, since it is lawful to 
dishonour even angels in vindicating his truth. 2 Angels are 
also meant by principalities and powers? and they are so 
called, because they are the primary instruments of the 
Divine power: and these two words were added, that if the 
word angels sounded too insignificant, something more 
might be expressed. But you would, perhaps, prefer this 
meaning, " Nor angels, and whatever powers there may be ;" 
which is a mode of speaking that is used, when we refer to 
things unknown to us, and exceeding our capacities. 

Nor present things, nor future things, &c. Though he 

1 Neither death threatened by persecutors, nor life promised on recan- 
tation. — Ed. 

2 Some of the Fathers, Jerome, Chrysostom, &c, have taken the same 
view, regarding the Apostle as speaking of good angels, as it were, hypo- 
thetically, as in Gal. i. 8. But Grotius, and many others, consider evil 
angels to be meant. Probably, angels, without any regard to what they 
are, are intended. — Ed. 

8 Grotius considers the words as being the abstract for the concrete, 
Princes and Potentates ; being called «?.£«', as some think, as being the 
first, the chief in authority, and Swva^s/;, as having power. " By these 
words," says Beza, " Paul is wont to designate the character of spirits, — 
of the good in Eph. i. 21 ; Col. i. 16 : — and of the bad in Eph. vi. 12 ; Col. 
ii. 15." Hence the probability is, that the words designate different ranks 
among angelic powers, without any reference to their character, whether 
good or evil. — Ed. 


speaks hyperbolically, yet he declares, that by no length of 
time can it be effected, that we should be separated from the 
Lord's favour: and it was needful to add this ; for we have 
not only to struggle with the sorrow which we feel from pre- 
sent evils, but also with the fear and the anxiety with which 
impending dangers may harass us. 1 The meaning then is, — ■ 
that we ought not to fear, lest the continuance of evils, how- 
ever long, should obliterate the faith of adoption. 

This declaration is clearly against the schoolmen, who 
idly talk and say, that no one is certain of final perseverance, 
except through the gift of special revelation, which they 
make to be very rare. By such a dogma the whole faith is 
destroyed, which is certainly nothing, except it extends to 
death and beyond death. But we, on the contrary, ought to 
feel confident, that he who has begun in us a good work, 
will carry it on until the day of the Lord Jesus. 2 

1 " Neither the evils we now feel, nor those which may await us/' — Gro- 
tius ; rather, " Neither things which now exist, nor things which shall be." 
— Ed. 

2 The words, " neither height nor depth," are left unnoticed, v-^uiftn, 
(ha$os. The first, says Mede, means prosperity, and the latter, adversity. 
Orotius regards what is meant as the height of honour, and the depth of 
disgrace. " Neither heaven nor hell," say others ; " neither heaven nor 
earth," according to Schleusner. " Things in heaven and things on earth," 
is the explanation of Chrysostom. The first, v4"»pa, is only found here and 
in 2 Cor. x. 5. Like DV"iO in Hebrew, it means what is high and elevated, 
and may, like that, sometimes signify heaven : and $u.6o; is not earth, but 
what is deeper ; it means a deep soil, Matt. xiii. 5, — the deep sea, Luke 
v. 4, — and in the plural, things deep and inscrutable, 1 Cor. ii. 10 ; it may 
therefore be very properly taken here for hell. 

That the words are to be thus taken seems probable from the gradation 
evident in the passage. In the first catalogue in verse 35. he mentions the 
evils arising from this world, its trials and its persecutions, and those end- 
ing in death. In the second, after repeating the utmost length to which 
worldly persecutors can go, " death or life," he ascends the invisible world, 
and mentions angels, then their combined powers, then the powers which 
do and may exist, then both heaven and hell, and, that he might include 
everything, except the uncreated God himself, he finishes with the words, 
" nor any created thing." 

The whole passage is sublime in an extraordinary degree. The contrast 
is the grandest that can be conceived. Here is the Christian, all weakness 
in himself, despised and trampled under foot by the world, triumphing 
over all existing, and all possible, and even impossible evils and opposition, 
having only this as his stay and support — that the God who has loved him, 
will never cease to love, keep, and defend him ; yea, were everything 
created, everything except God himself, leagued against him and attempt- 
ing his ruin. — Ed. 


39. Which is in Christ, &e. That is, of which Christ is 
the bond ; for he is the beloved Son, in whom the Father is 
well pleased. If, then, we are through him united to God, 
we may be assured of the immutable and unfailing kindness 
of God towards us. Pie now speaks here more distinctly 
than before, as he declares that the fountain of love is in the 
Father, and affirms that it flows to us from Christ. 


1. I say the truth in Christ, I lie 1. Veritatem dico in Christo, non 
not, my conscience also bearing me mentior, testimonium simul mihi 
witness in the Holy Ghost, reddente mea conscientia cum Spiri- 

tu sancto, 

2. That I have great heaviness 2. Quod dolor sit mihi magnus, et 
and continual sorrow in my heart. assiduus cruciatus cordi meo : 

3. For I could wish that myself 3. Optarim enim ego ipse anathe- 
were accursed from Christ for my ma esse a Christo pro fratribus meis, 
brethren, my kinsmen according to cognatis inquam meis secundum car- 
the flesh : nem ; 

4. Who are Israelites ; to whom 4. Qui sunt Israelite, quorum est 
pertaineth the adoption, and the adoptio, et gloria, et testamenta, et 
glory, and the covenants, and the legislatio, et cultus, et promissiones ; 
giving of the law, and the service of 

God, and the promises ; 

5. Whose are the fathers, and of 5. Quorum sunt Patres, et ex 
whom, as concerning the flesh, Christ quibus est Christus secundum car- 
came, who is over all, God blessed nem, qui est super omnia Deus bene- 
for ever. Amen. dictus in secida. Amen. 

In this chapter he begins to remove the offences which 
might have diverted the minds of men from Christ : for the 
Jews, for whom he was appointed according to the covenant 
of the law, not only rejected him, but regarded him with 
contempt, and for the most part hated him. Hence one 
of two things seemed to follow, — either that there was no 
truth in the Divine promise, — or that Jesus, whom Paul 
preached, was not the Lord's anointed, who had been espe- 
cially promised to the Jews. This twofold knot Paul fully 
unties in what follows. He, however, so handles this subject, 
as to abstain from all bitterness against the Jews, that he 
might not exasperate their minds ; and yet he concedes to 
them nothing to the injury of the gospel ; for he allows to 
them their privileges in such a way, as not to detract any- 


tiling from Christ. But lie passes, as it were abruptly, to 
the mention of this subject, so that there appears to be no 
connection in the discourse. 1 He, however, so enters on this 
new subject, as though he had before referred to it. It so 
happened in this way, — Having finished the doctrine he dis- 
cussed, he turned his attention to the Jews, and being as- 
tonished at their unbelief as at something monstrous, he 
burst forth into this sudden protestation, in the same way 
as though it was a subject which he had previously handled; 
for there was no one to whom this thought would not of it- 
self immediately occur, — " If this be the doctrine of the law 
and the Prophets, how comes it that the Jews so pertina- 
ciously reject it V And further, it was everywhere known, 
that all that he had hitherto spoken of the law of Moses, 
and of the grace of Christ, was more disliked by the Jews, 
than that the faith of the Gentiles should be assisted by their 
consent. It was therefore necessary to remove this obstacle, 
lest it should impede the course of the gospel. 

1. The truth I say in Christ', &e. As it was an opinion 
entertained by most that Paul was, as it were, a sworn 
enemy to his own nation, and as it was suspected somewhat 
even by the household of faith, as though he had taught 
them to forsake Moses, he adopts a preface to prepare the 
minds of his readers, before he proceeds to his subject, and 
in this preface he frees himself from the false suspicion of 
evil will towards the Jews. And as the matter was not un- 
worthy of an oath, and as he perceived that his affirmation 
. would hardly be otherwise believed against a prejudice al- 
ready entertained, he declares by an oath that he speaks the 

1 The connection seems to be this : he had been speaking of the impos- 
sibility of separating God's people from the protecting influence and pre- 
serving power of his love ; he had clearly shown, that no divorce or separa- 
tion can take place through any possible circumstances. Then the Jews 
might say, " If this be true, then we are safe, we are still God's people." 
Hence he proceeds to remove this objection, and in order to prepare their 
mind to receive what he is going to say and to prove, he speaks first of his 
deep concern for their welfare: and then he resumes the doctrine he 
touched upon in verses 28, 29, and 30 of the former chapter, and illustrates 
it by a reference to the past dealings of God with the Jews, and proves it 
by passages from the ancient Prophets. He shows that God's people are 
the called according to his purpose, and not all who wear the outward sym- 
bol of his covenant. — Ed. 


truth. By this example and the like, (as I reminded you 
in the first chapter,) we ought to learn that oaths are lawful, 
that is, when they render that truth credible which is neces- 
sary to be known, and which would not be otherwise believed. 

The expression, In Christ, means "according to Christ/' 1 
By adding / lie not, he signifies that he speaks without 
fiction or disguise. My conscience testifying to me, &c. By 
these words he calls his own conscience before the tribunal 
of God, for he brings in the Spirit as a witness to his feeling. 
He adduced the Spirit for this end, that he might more 
fully testify that he was free and pure from an evil dispo- 
sition, and that he pleaded the cause of Christ under the 
guidance and direction of the Spirit of God. It often hap- 
pens that a person, blinded by the passions of the flesh, 
(though not purposing to deceive,) knowingly and wilfully 
obscures the light of truth. But to swear by the name of 
God, in a proper sense of the word, is to call him as a witness 
for the purpose of confirming what is doubtful, and at the 
same time to bind ourselves over to his judgment, in case 
we say what is false. 

2. That I have great sorrow, &c. He dexterously man- 
ages so to cut short his sentence as not yet to express what 
he was going to say ; for it was not as yet seasonable openly 
to mention the destruction of the Jewish nation. It may 
be added, that he thus intimates a greater measure of sorrow, 
as imperfect sentences are for the most part full of pathos. 

1 " Idem valet ac secundum Christum, — it is the same with According 
to Christ ;" " Xty» lv x^™ — I speak in Christ," that is, as a Christian ; 
to he in Christ and to he a Christian is the same. This idea bears on the 
import of the passage more than any other. It is as though he said, 
" Though I am in Christ or a Christian, yet I tell you this as the truth or 
the fact, and I have the testimony of conscience enlightened by the Spirit, 
that I have great grief and unceasing sorrow on your account." The Jews 
had the impression that the Apostle, having become the follower of Christ, 
must have necessarily entertained hatred towards them, and must have 
therefore felt no concern for them ; for this is really the case with all real 
apostates, that is, with those who leave the truth for error, but not with 
them who leave error for the truth. To obviate this impression seems to 
have been the object here. How the idea of an oath comports with what 
follows it is difficult to see. It is no argument to say that \* here means 
the same as in Matt. v. 34, where it follows the verb "to swear." There 
is a passage similar to this in Eph. iv. 17 ; but i» w/g/y there clearly signi- 
fies "by the Lord's authority." We may add, that to swear by Christ 
would have had no influence on the Jews.— Ed. 


But he will presently express the cause of his sorrow, after 
having more fully testified his sincerity. 

But the perdition of the Jews caused very great anguish 
to Paul, though he knew that it happened through the 
will and providence of God. We hence learn that the obe- 
dience we render to God's providence does not prevent us 
from grieving at the destruction of lost men, though we know 
that they are thus doomed by the just judgment of God ; 
for the same mind, is capable of being influenced by these 
two feelings : that when it looks to God it can willingly bear 
the ruin of those whom he has decreed to destroy ; and that 
when it turns its thoughts to men, it condoles with their 
evils. They are then much deceived, who say that godly 
men ought to have apathy and insensibility, (dirddeiav /cat 
dvaXyvo-tav,) lest they should resist the decree of God. 

3. For I could wish, &c. He could not have expressed a 
greater ardour of love than by what he testifies here ; for 
that is surely perfect love which refuses not to die for the 
salvation of a friend. But there is another word added, 
anathema, which proves that he speaks not only of temporal 
but of eternal death ; and he explains its meaning when he 
says, from Christ, for it signifies a separation. And what 
is to be separated from Christ, but to be excluded from the 
hope of salvation ? It was then a proof of the most ardent 
love, that Paul hesitated not to wish for himself that con- 
demnation which he saw impending over the Jews, in order 
that he might deliver them. It is no objection that he knew 
that his salvation was based on the election of God, which 
could by no means fail ; for as those ardent feelings hurry 
us on impetuously, so they see and regard nothing but the 
object in view. So Paul did not connect God's election with 
his wish, but the remembrance of that being passed by, he 
was wholly intent on the salvation of the Jews. 

Many indeed doubt whether this was a lawful desire ; but 
this doubt may be thus removed : the settled boundary of 
love is, that it proceeds as far as conscience permits ; x if 

1 " Ut ad aras usque procedat." Ainsworth gives a similar phrase and 
explains its reason, " Usque ad aras amicus — As far as conscience permits," 
Oell., because in swearing they held the horns of the altar. — Ed. 


then we love in God and not without God's authority, our 
love can never be too much. And such was the love of Paul ; 
for seeing his own nation endued with so many of God's 
benefits, he loved God's gifts in them, and them on account 
of God's gifts ; and he deemed it a great evil that those 
gifts should perish, hence it was that his mind being over- 
whelmed, he burst forth into this extreme wish. 1 

1 Most of those who take this view of the passage express the implied 
condition more distinctly than is done here. They have regarded the 
wish in this sense, " I could wish were it right or lawful." So thought 
Ohrysostom, Photius, Theophylact, Luther, Pareus, Beza, Estius, Light- 
foot, Witsius, Mede, Whitby, and others. The words of Photius are given 
by Wolfius, " He says not, I wish to be separated, but I could wish, that 
is, were it possible — hvx.epw <*■*, t««t' to-™, u 'bwarov «v." Stuart and Hodge 
adopt the same view. " It was a conditional wish," says Pareus, " like 
that of Christ in Matt. xxvi. 39. Christ knew and Paul knew that it 
could not be granted, and yet both expressed their strong desire." See 
Ex. xxxii. 32. 

Almost all critics agree that the Vulgate is wrong in rendering the 
verb optabam — " I did wish," as though the Apostle referred to the time, 
as A morose supposed, when he was a Pharisee ; but this is wholly incon- 
sistent with the tenor of the passage. Erasmus, Grotius, Beza, and most 
others regard the verb as having an optative meaning ; at being under- 
stood after it, as the case is with i£/>u\ofi'/»> in Acts xxv. 22, and vfoxov in 
Gal. iv. 20. 

There are two other opinions which deserve notice. The first is, that 
"anathema" here means excommunication, and that " from Christ" sig- 
nifies from his Church, Christ the head being taken for his body the 
Church, as in 1 Cor. xii. 12, and in Gal. hi. 27, according to the manner 
of the Hebrews, as Grotius says, who called the wife by the name of the 
husband. Is. iv. 1. This is the view taken by Hammond, Grotius, and 
some of the Lutheran divines. But the word "anathema" has not in 
Scripture this meaning, though in after-ages it had attained it both in the 
Church and among the Rabbins. In the New Testament it occurs only 
here and in Acts xxiii. 14 ; 1 Cor. xii. 3 : xvi. 22 ; and Gal. i. 8, 9 ; and 
the verb «va^aT-/^ is found in Mark xiv. 71 ; Acts xxiii. 12, 14, 21 ; and 
with xara prefixed in Matt. xxvi. 74. The corresponding word in Hebrew, 
D"in, rendered " anathema" by the Septuagint, means two things: what 
is separated for a holy purpose and wholly devoted to God, incapable of 
being redeemed, Lev. xxvii. 28 ; and what is set apart and devoted to 
death or destruction, Josh. vi. 17 ; Ezra x. 8. It never means excommu- 
nication, but cutting off by death. Compare Ex. xxii. 20, and Deut. xiii. 
1-11. It has hence been applied to designate a man that is execrable and 
accursed, deserving death. So the Apostle uses it in 1 Cor. xvi. 22, and 
Gal. i. 8, 9. 

The other view is more in accordance with the meaning of the term. 
It is thought that " anathema" means an ignominious death, and that of 
one apparently separated from Christ ; or that he wished to be made " an 
anathema" by Christ, or for the sake of Christ, or after Christ, that is, his 
example. The words «<*•« rou x^trrou create all the difficulty in this case. 
This is the explanation given by Jerome, Locke, Limborch, Doddridge, 


Thus I consent not to the opinion of those who think that 
Paul spoke these words from regard to God only, and not to 
men ; nor do I agree with others, who say, that without any 
thought of God, he was influenced only by love to men : but 
I connect the love of men with a zeal for God's glory. 

I have not, however, as yet explained that which is the 
chief thing, — that the Jews are here regarded as they were 
adorned with those singular tokens, by which they were dis- 
tinguished from the rest of mankind. For God had by his 
covenant so highly exalted them, that by their fall, the faith- 
fulness and truth of God himself seemed also to fail in the 
world : for that covenant would have thus become void, the 
stability of which was promised to be perpetual, as long as 
the sun and moon should shine in heaven. (Ps. lxxii. 7.) 
So that the abolition of this would have been more strange, 
than the sad and ruinous confusion of the whole world. It 
was not therefore a simple and exclusive regard for men : for 
though it is better that one member should perish than the 
whole body ; it was yet for this reason that Paul had such a 
high regard for the Jews, because he viewed them as bearing 
the character, and, as they commonly say, the quality of an 
elect people ; and this will appear more evident, as w T e shall 
soon see, from what follows. 

The words, my kinsmen according to the flesh, though they 
contain nothing new, do yet serve much for amplification. 
For first, lest any one should think that he willingly, or of 
his own accord, sought cause of quarrel with the Jews, he 
intimates, that he had not put off the feeling of kindred, so 
as not to be affected with the destruction of his own flesh. 
And secondly, since it was necessary that the gospel, of 

and Scott. The first meaning, however, as materially given by Calvin, is 
the most obvious and natural. 

Both Haldane and Chalmers follow the Vulgate, and put the clause in 
a parenthesis, as expressing the Apostle's wish when unconverted ; but 
there is altogether an incongruity in the terms he employs to express this 
wish ; he surely would not have said that he wished to be separated from 
Christ as an accursed thing, for that is the meaning of anathema ; for 
while he was a Pharisee he deemed it a privilege and an honour even to 
persecute Christ. And we cannot suppose that the Apostle would now 
describe his former wish in terms unsuitable to what it really was, but as 
he now regarded it. — Ed. 


which he was the preacher, should go forth from Sion, he 
does not in vain pronounce an eulogy in so many words on 
his own kindred. For the qualifying expression, according 
to the flesh, is not in my view added for the sake of extenu- 
ation, as in other places, hut, on the contrary, for the sake of 
expressing his faith : for though the Jews had disowned 
Paul, he yet concealed not the fact, that he had sprung from 
that nation, the election of whom was still strong in the root, 
though the branches had withered. What Budceus says of the 
word anathema, is inconsistent with the opinion of Chrysos- 
tom, who makes avdOefjua and dvaO^fxa, to be the same. 

4. Who are Israelites, &c. Here the reason is now more 
plainly given, why the destruction of that people caused him 
so much anguish, that he was prepared to redeem them by 
his own death, namely, because they were Israelites ; for the 
relative pronoun is put here instead of a causative adverb. 
In like manner this anxiety took hold on Moses, when he 
desired that he should be blotted out of the book of life, 
rather than that the holy and chosen race of Abraham should 
be reduced to nothing. (Ex. xxxii. 32.) Then in addition 
-to his kind feeling, he mentions also other reasons, and those 
of a higher kind, which made him to favour the Jews, even 
because the Lord had, as it were, by a kind of privilege, so 
raised them, that they were separated from the common 
order of men : and these titles of dignity were testimonies 
of love ; for we are not wont to speak thus favourably, but 
of those whom we love. And though by their ingratitude 
they rendered themselves unworthy to be esteemed on ac- 
count of these gifts of God, yet Paul continued justly to 
respect them, that he might teach us that the ungodly can- 
not so contaminate the good endowments of God, but that 
they always deserve to be praised and admired : at the same 
time, those who abuse them acquire thereby nothing but a 
greater obloquy. But as we are not to act in such a manner 
as to contemn, through a detestation of the ungodly, the 
gifts of God in them ; so, on the other hand, we must use 
prudence, lest by our kind esteem and regard for them we 
make them proud, and especially lest our praises bear the 
appearance of flattery. But let us imitate Paul, who con- 


ceded to the Jews their jn'ivileges in such a manner, that lie 
afterwards declared that they were all of no worth without 
Christ. But it was not in vain that he mentioned this as 
one of their praises, — that they were Israelites ; for Jacob 
prayed for this as a great favour, that they should be called 
by his name. (Gen. xlviii. 16.) 

Whose are the adoption, &c. The whole drift of Paul's 
discourse is to this purpose, — that though the Jews by their 
defection had produced an ungodly divorce between God 
and themselves, yet the light of God's favour was not wholly 
extinguished, according to what he had also said in ch. iii. 8. 
They had indeed become unbelievers and had broken his 
covenant ; but still their perfidy had not rendered void the 
faithfulness of God ; for he had not only reserved for him- 
self some remnant seed from the whole multitude, but had 
as yet continued, according to their hereditary right, the 
name of a Church among them. 

But though they had already stripped themselves of these 
ornaments, so that it availed them nothing to be called the 
children of Abraham, yet as there was a danger, lest through 
their fault the majesty of the gospel should be depreciated 
among the Gentiles, Paul does not regard what they deserved, 
but covers their baseness and disgraceful conduct by throw- 
ing vails over them, until the Gentiles were fully persuaded, 
that the gospel had flowed to them from the celestial foun- 
tain, from the sanctuary of God, from an elect nation. For 
the Lord, passing by other nations, had selected them as a 
people peculiar to himself, and had adopted them as his 
children, as he often testifies by Moses and the prophets ; 
and not content simply to give them the name of children, 
he calls them sometimes his first-begotten, and sometimes 
his beloved. So the Lord says in Ex. iv. 22, — " My first- 
begotten son is Israel ; let my son go, that he may serve 
me." In Jer. xxxi. 9, it is said, " I am become a Father 
to Israel, and Ephraim is my first-begotten :" and again, 
" Is not my son Ephraim precious to me ? Is he not a de- 
lightful child ? Hence troubled for him are my bowels, and 
I will yet pity him." By these words he means, not only to 
set forth his kindness towards the people of Israel, but 


rather to exhibit the efficacy of adoption, through which the 
promise of the celestial inheritance is conveyed. 

Glory means the excellency into which the Lord had 
raised up that people above all other nations, and that in 
many and various ways, and especially by dwelling in the 
midst of them ; for besides many other tokens of his pre- 
sence, he exhibited a singular proof of it in the ark, where 
he gave responses, and also heard his people, that he might 
show forth his power in helping them : and for this reason 
it was called " the glory of God." (1 Sam. iv. 22.) 1 

As he has distinguished here between covenants 2 and pro- 
mises, we may observe this difference, — that a covenant is 
that which is expressed in distinct and accustomed words, and 
contains a mutual stipulation, as that which was made with 
Abraham ; but promises are what we meet with everywhere in 
Scripture ; for when God had once made a covenant with his 
ancient people, he continued to offer, often by new promises, 
his favour to them. It hence follows, that promises are to 
be traced up to the covenant as to their true source ; in the 
same manner as the special helps of God, by which he testi- 
fies his love towards the faithful, may be said to flow from 
the true fountain of election. And as the law was nothing 
more than a renewal of the covenant, and more fully sanc- 
tioned the remembrance of it, legislation, or the giving of 
the law, seems to be here peculiarly applied to the things 
which the law decreed : for it was no common honour con- 
ferred on the Jewish people, that they had God as their 
lawgiver. For if some gloried in their Solons and Lycur- 

1 Vitrvnga thinks that " the glory" was the pillar of fire and the cloud 
in the wilderness : hut Beza, Grotius, and Hammond agree with Calvin, 
that the ark is meant. See Ps. lxxviii. 61. It seems to refer to those 
manifestations made in the tabernacle, and afterwards in the temple, by 
peculiar brightness or splendour. See Ex. xl. 34; and 1 Kings viii. 11. 
This splendour or glory signified God's presence, a privilege peculiar to the 
Israelites. — Ed. 

2 Why he mentions " covenants," a! litttyxxi, in the plural number, has 
been variously accounted for, — " there were various things included — the 
land of Canaan, prosperity, and the priesthood, — there were three laws — 
the moral, ceremonial, and judicial, — there were several repetitions of the 
covenant made to the patriarchs:" but if we read Gal. iii. 17, we shall 
see the true reason, for the Apostle there makes a distinct dilference be- 
tween the Abrahamic and the Mosaic covenant ; but both these belonged 
to the Jews. See also Eph. ii. 12. — Ed. 


guses, how much more reason was there to glory in the 
Lord ? of this you have an account in Deut. iv. 32. By 
worship he understands that part of the law in which the 
legitimate manner of worshipping God is prescribed, such as 
rites and ceremonies. These ought to have been deemed 
lawful on account of God's appointment ; without which, 
whatever men devise is nothing but a profanation of re- 

5. Whose are the fathers, &c. It is indeed of some im- 
portance to be descended from saints and men beloved of 
God, since God promised to the godly fathers mercy with 
regard to their children, even to thousand generations, and 
especially in the words addressed to Abraham, Isaac, and 
Jacob, as we find in Gen. xvii. 4, and in other passages. It 
matters not, that this by itself, when separated from the fear 
of God and holiness of life, is vain and useless : for we find 
the same to have been the case as to worship and glory, as 
it is evident everywhere in the prophets, especially in Is. i. 
11 ; lx. 1 ; and also in Jer. vii. 4. But as God dignified 
these things, when joined with attention to godliness, with 
some degree of honour, he justly enumerated them among 
the privileges of the Jews. They are indeed said to be the 
heirs of the promises for this very reason, — because they de- 
scended from the fathers. (Acts iii. 25.) 

From whom is Christ, &c. They who apply this to the 
fathers, as though Paul meant only to say that Christ had 
descended from the fathers, have no reason to allege : for 
his object was to close his account of the pre-eminence of 
the Jews by this encomium, — that Christ proceeded from 
them ; for it was not a thing to be lightly esteemed, to 
have been united by a natural relationship with the Re- 
deemer of the world ; for if he had honoured the whole 
human race, in joining himself to us by a community of 
nature, much more did he honour them, with whom he had 
a closer bond of union. It must at the same time be always 
maintained, that when this favour of being allied by kin- 
dred is unconnected with godliness, it is so far from being 
an advantage, that on the contrary it leads to a greater con- 


But we have here a remarkable passage, — that in Christ 
two natures are in such a manner distinguished, that they 
are at the same time united in the very person of Christ : 
for by saying that Christ had descended from the Jews, he 
declared his real humanity. The words according to the 
flesh, which are added, imply that he had something superior 
to flesh ; and here seems to be an evident distinction made 
between humanity and divinity. But he at last connects 
both together, where he says, that the Christ, who had de- 
scended from the Jews according to the flesh, is God blessed 
for ever. 

We must further observe, that this ascription of praise be- 
longs to none but only to the true and eternal God; for he de- 
clares in another place, (1 Tim. i. 1 7,) that it is the true God 
alone to whom honour and glory are due. . They who break 
off this clause from the previous context, that they may take 
away from Christ so clear a testimony to his divinity, most 
presumptuously attempt to introduce darkness in the midst of 
the clearest light ; for the words most evidently mean this, 
— Christ, who is from the Jews according to the flesh, is God 
blessed for ever} And I doubt not, but that Paul, who had 

1 Stuart has in a most convincing manner vindicated the true and obvi- 
ous meaning of this clause. There is no reading of any authority, nor any 
early version, that affects the genuineness of the received text : and it is 
amazing what ingenuity has been exercised by various critics to evade the 
plain construction of the passage, — a remarkable instance of the debasing 
power of preconceived notions. It is somewhat singular too, that some 
who professed at least the doctrine of Christ's divinity, such as Erasmus, 
Whitby, unci. Locke, have attempted to make changes in the text, and those 
for the most part conjectural, by which the obvious meaning is wholly 

It is very clearly shown by Stuart, that the very position of the words, 
and their connection with the context, will admit of no other construction 
than that which our version contains. 

It is well known, that in Hebrew the word " blessed " is always placed 
before " God," or Jehovah, when it is an ascription of praise ; and it ap- 
pears that the Septuagint has in more than thirty instances followed the 
same order, and, indeed, in every instance except one, (Ps. lxvii. 19,) and 
that evidently a typographical mistake. The same is the case with all 
the examples in the New Testament. So that if the phrase here was 
a doxology, it must have been written dxoywro; » Ss«?. In the Welsh 
language, which in many of its idioms is identically the same with the 
Hebrew, the order of the words is the same : when it is a doxology, the 
word " blessed " invariably precedes the word " God ;" and when other- 
wise it follows it. 

The opinion of Ghrysostom on this sentence, to which Erasmus attaches 


to contend hard with a reproach urged against him, did de- 
signedly raise up his own mind to the contemplation of the 
eternal glory of Christ ; nor did he do this so much for his 
own sake individually, as for the purpose of encouraging- 
others by his example to raise up their thoughts. 

6. Not as though the word of God 6. Neque tamen, quasi exciderit 
hath taken none effect. For they are verbum Dei: non enim omnes qui 
not all Israel which are of Israel : sunt ex Israele sunt Israelitse : 

7. Neither, because they are the 7. Nee qui sunt semen Abrahse, 
seed of Abraham, are they all chil- ideo omnes filii ; sed in Isaac voca- 
dren : but, In Isaac shall thy seed bitur tibi semen : 

be called ; 

8. That is, They which are the 8. Hoc est, non qui sunt filii car- 
children of the flesh, these are not nis, ii filii sunt Dei ; sed qui sunt 
the children of God : but the chil- filii promissionis, censebuntur in 
dren of the promise are counted for semen : 

the seed. 

9. For this is the word of promise, 9. Promissionis enim verbum hoc 
At this time will I come, and Sarah est, Secundum hoc tempus veniam, 
shall have a son. et erit Sarse filius. 

6. Not however, &c. Paul had been carried away by the 
ardour of his wish, as it were, into an excess of feeling, (in 
ecstasin,) but now, returning to discharge his office as a 
teacher, he adds what may be viewed as somewhat qualifying 
what he had said, as though he would restrain immoderate 
grief. And inasmuch as by deploring the ruin of his own 
nation, this inconsistency seems to follow, that the covenant 
made by God with the seed of Abraham had failed, (for the 
favour of God could not have been wanting to the Israelites 
without the covenant being abolished,) he reasonably anti- 
cipates this inconsistency, and shows, that notwithstanding 
the great blindness of the Jews, the favour of God continued 
still to that people, so that the truth of the covenant re- 
mained firm. 

some importance, is of no value whatever, as he did not understand Hebrew^ 
and Paul, for the most part, wrote as a Hebraist. 

The participle «, being put for im, is what is common in Hebrew and 
in the New Testament. See a remarkable instance of two participles and 
a verb in the middle, in Eev. i. 4. It has been said, that " amen " un- 
suitably follows a declarative sentence; but see an instance in ch. i. 25. 

It is justly observed by Stuart, that the context requires the application 
of this sentence to Christ, as otherwise there would be no antithesis to the 
words " according to the flesh." — Ed. 


Some read, " But it is not possible," &c, as though it were 
in Greek dlov t€ ;* but as I find this reading in no copy, I 
adopt the common reading, Not hoivever that it had failed, 
&c., and according to this sense, " That I deplore the de- 
struction of my nation is not because I think the promise, 
given formerly by God to Abraham, is now void or abolished.''' 

For not all, &c. The statement is, — that the promise was 
so given to Abraham and to his seed, that the inheritance 
did not belong to every seed without distinction ; it hence 
follows that the defection of some does not prove that the 
covenant does not remain firm and valid. 

But that it may be more evident on what condition the 
Lord adopted the posterity of Abraham as a peculiar people 
to himself, two things are to be here considered. The first 
is, That the promise of salvation given to Abraham belongs 
to all who can trace their natural descent to him ; for it is 
offered to all without exception, and for this reason they are 
rightly called the heirs of the covenant made with Abraham ; 
and in this respect they are his successors, or, as Scripture 
calls them, the children of the promise. For since it was 
the Lord's will that his covenant should be sealed, no less 
in Ishmael and Esau, than in Isaac and Jacob, it appears 
that they were not wholly alienated from him ; except, it 
may be, you make no account of the circumcision, which 
was conferred on them by God's command ; but it cannot be 
so regarded without dishonour to God. But this belonged 
to them, according to what the Apostle had said before, 
" whose are the covenants," though they were unbelieving ; 
and in Acts iii. 25, they are called by Peter, the children of 
the covenants, because they were the descendants of the 
Prophets. The second point to be considered is, That the 
children of the promise are strictly those in whom its power 
and effect are found. On this account Paul denies here 
that all the children of Abraham were the children of God, 
though a covenant had been made with them by the Lord, 

1 Were this the case, the verb which follows, as Wolfius says and proves 
by an example, must have been in the infinitive mood. Piscator says the 
same. But Parens and Jkza take this to be the meaning ; and so does 
Macknight, " Now it is not possible that the promise of God hath fallen." 


for few continued in the faith of the covenant ; and yet God 
himself testifies, in the sixth chapter of Ezekiel, that they 
were all regarded by him as children. In short, when a 
whole people are called the heritage and the peculiar people 
of God, what is meant is, that they have been chosen by the 
Lord, the promise of salvation having been offered them and 
confirmed by the symbol of circumcision ; but as many by 
their ingratitude reject this adoption, and thus enjoy in no 
degree its benefits, there arises among them another differ- 
ence with regard to the fulfilment of the promise. That it 
might not then appear strange to any one, that this fulfil- 
ment of the promise was not evident in many of the Jews, 
Paul denies that they were included in the true election of 
God. , 

Some may prefer such a statement as this, — " The general 
election of the people of Israel is no hinderance, that God 
should not from them choose by his hidden counsel those 
whom he pleases." It is indeed an illustrious example of 
gratuitous mercy, when God deigns to make a covenant of 
life with a nation : but his hidden favour appears more evi- 
dent in that second election, which is confined to a part 

But when he says, that all who are of Israel are not 
Israelites, and that all who are of the seed of Abraham are 
not children, it is a kind of change in the meaning of words, 
(irapovojjLao-La) ; for in the first clause he includes the whole 
race, in the second he refers only to true sons, who were 
not become degenerated. 

7. But, " In Isaac shall thy seed be called." Paul men- 
tions this, to show that the hidden election of God overrules 
the outward calling, and that it is yet by no means incon- 
sistent with it, but, on the contrary, that it tends to its con- 
firmation and completion. That he might then in due order 
prove both, he in the first place assumes, that the election 
of God is not tied to the natural descendants of Abraham, 
and that it is not a thing that is included in the conditions 
of the covenant : and this is what he now confirms by a most 
suitable example. For if there ought to have been any 
natural progeny, which fell not away from the covenant; 


this ought to have been especially the case with those who 
obtained the privilege at first : but when we find, that of the 
first sons of Abraham, while he was yet alive, and the pro- 
mise new, one of them was separated as the seed, how much 
more might the same thing have taken place in his distant 
posterity ? Now this testimony is taken from Gen. xvii. 20, 
where the Lord gives an answer to Abraham, that he had 
heard his prayer for Ishmael, but that there would be an- 
other on whom the promised blessing would rest. It hence 
follows, that some men are by special privilege elected out 
of the chosen people,, in whom the common adoption becomes 
efficacious and valid. 

8. That is, They are not, &c. He now gathers from Grod's 
answer a proposition, which includes the whole of what he 
had in view. For if Isaac, and not Ishmael, was the seed, 
though the one as well as the other was Abraham's son, it 
must be that all natural sons are not to be regarded as the 
seed, but that the promise is specially fulfilled only in some, 
and that it does not belong commonly and equally to all. 
He calls those the children of the flesh, who have nothing 
superior to a natural descent ; as they are the children of the 
promise, who are peculiarly selected by the Lord. 

9. For the word of promise is this, &c. He adds another 
divine testimony ; and we see, by the application made of it, 
with what care and skill he explains Scripture. When he 
says, the Lord said that he would come, and that a son 
would be born to Abraham of Sarah, he intimated that his 
blessing was not yet conferred, but that it was as yet sus- 
pended. 1 But Ishmael was already born when this was 

1 Gen. xviii. 10. The quotation is not from the Septuagint, but is 
much nearer a literal version of the Hebrew : the only material difference 
is in the words, " at this time," instead of " according to the time of life." 
The words in different forms occur four times, — Gen. xvii. 21 ; xviii. 10, 14 ; 
xxi. 2 ; we meet with the same words in 2 Kings iv. 16, 17. It appears that 
the Apostle here took this expression, " at this time," from Gen. xvii. 21, 
while he mainly followed the text in Gen. xviii. 10. The meaning of the 
phrase, " according to the time of life," as given in Genesis and in Kings, 
evidently is the time of child-bearing, what passes between conception and 
the birth. This was repeatedly mentioned in order to show that the usual 
course of nature would be followed, though the conception would be mira- 
culous ; the child to be born was to be nourished the usual time in the 
womb, — " according to the time of producing life," or of child-bearing. 


said: then God's blessing had no regard to Ishmael. We 
may also observe, by the way, the great caution with which 
he proceeds here, lest he should exasperate the Jews. The 
cause being passed over, he first simply states the fact ; he 
will hereafter open the fountain. 

10. And not only this; but when 10. Non solum autem hie, sed et 
Rebecca also had conceived by one, Rebecca, quae ex uno conceperat, 
even by our father Isaac, patre nostro Isaac : 

11. (For the children being not 11. Quum enim nonduui nati es- 
yet born, neither having done any sent pueri, nee quidpiam boni aut 
good or evil, that the purpose of mali egissent, ut secundum electio- 
God according to election might nem propositum Dei maneret, 
stand, not of works, but of him that 


12. It was said unto her, The 12. Non ex operibus, sed ex vo- 
elder shall serve the younger. cante, dictum est ei, Major serviet 

minori ; 

13. As it is written, Jacob have I 13. Quemadmodum scriptum est, 
loved, but Esau have I hated. Jacob dilexi, Esau autem odio habui. 

10. And not only, &c. There are in this chapter some 
broken sentences, such as this is, — But Rebecca also, who had 
conceived by one, our father Isaac ; for he leaves off in the 
middle, before he comes to the principal verb. The mean- 
ing, however, is, that the difference as to the possession of 
the promise may not only be seen in the children of Abraham, 
but that there is a much more evident example in Jacob 
and Esau : for in the former instance some might allege that 
their condition was unequal, the one being the son of an 
handmaid ; but these were of the same mother, and were 
even twins : yet one was rejected, and the other was chosen 
by the Lord. It is hence clear, that the fulfilment of the 
promise does not take place in all the children of the flesh 

And as Paul refers to the persons to whom God made 
known his purpose, I prefer to regard a masculine pronoun 
to be understood, rather than a neuter, as Erasmus has 
done: for the meaning is, that God's special election had 

The exposition of Gesenius, adopted by Tholuck and Stuart, " when the 
time shall be renewed," does not comport with the passage, as it introduces 
a tautology. Hammond says, that the Hebrews interpret the expression 
in Kings as meaning the time between the conception and the birth. — Ed. 


not been revealed only to Abraham, but also to Rebecca, 
when she brought forth her twins. 1 

11. For when the children, &c. He now begins to ascend 
higher, even to show the cause of this difference, which he 
teaches us is nowhere else to be found except in the election 
of God. He had indeed before briefly noticed, that there 
was a difference between the natural children of Abraham, 
that though all were adopted by circumcision into a partici- 
pation of the covenant, yet the grace of God was not effect- 
ual in them all ; and hence that they, who enjoy the favour 
of God, are the children of the promise. But how it thus 
happened, he has been either silent or has obscurely hinted. 
Now indeed he openly ascribes the whole cause to the elec- 
tion of God, and that gratuitous, and in no way depending 
on men ; so that in the salvation of the godly nothing higher 
(nihil superius) must be sought than the goodness of God, 

1 Here is a striking instance of a difficulty as to the construction, while 
the meaning of the whole passage is quite evident. The ellipsis has been 
variously supplied : " and not only this," i.e., what I have stated ; " and not 
only he," i.e., Abraham to whom the first communication was made ; " and 
not only she," i.e., Sarah, mentioned in the preceding verse ; " but Re- 
becca also is another instance." But it may be thus supplied, — " and not 
only so," i.e., as to the word of promise ; " but Rebecca also had a word," 
or a message conveyed to her. That the verse has a distinct meaning in 
itself is evident, for the next begins with a yasg, " for ;" and to include the 
1 1 th verse in a parenthesis, seems by no means satisfactory. The three 
verses may be thus rendered, — 

10. And not only so, but Rebecca also received a message, when she 
conceived by the first, (i.e., son or seed,) even our father Isaac: 

11. for they being not yet born, and having not done any good or evil, 
that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not 

12. through works, but through him who calls, it was said to her, " The 
elder shall serve the younger." 

The words <-l *vos, rendered commonly " by one," have never been satis- 
factorily accounted for. It seems to be an instance of Hebraism ; the 
word "inN, " one," means also " first." We have other instances of this 
in the New Testament ; 'tis pint rut traSSdrar — " on the first (i.e., day) of 
the week," Matt, xxviii. 1 ; see also Mark xvi. 2 ; John xx. 19. " The 
first day" in (Jen. i. 5, is rendered by the Septuagint, hfti^it pla. Isaac was 
the first son or seed of promise : and a difference was made in the children 
of the very first seed. But this meaning of tis is said by Schleusner to be 
sanctioned by Greek writers, such as Herodotus and Thucydides. There 
is no necessity of introducing the word " children," at the beginning of 
verse 11 ; the antecedent in this case, as it sometimes happens, comes 
after the pronoun ; and it is the " elder " and " younger " at the end of 
verse 12. — Ed. 


and nothing higher in the perdition of the reprobate than 
his just severity. 

Then the first proposition is, — " As the blessing of the 
covenant separates the Israelitic nation from all other people, 
so the election of God makes a distinction between men in 
that nation, while he predestinates some to salvation, and 
others to eternal condemnation." The second proposition 
is, — " There is no other basis for this election than the good- 
ness of God alone, and also since the fall of Adam, his 
mercy ; which embraces whom he pleases, without any re- 
gard whatever to their works." The third is, — " The Lord 
in his gratuitous election is free and exempt from the neces- 
sity of imparting equally the same grace to all ; but, on the 
contrary, he passes by whom he wills, and whom he wills he 
chooses." All these things Paul briefly includes in one sen- 
tence : he then goes on to other things. 

Moreover, by these words, When the children had not yet 
been born, nor had done any good or evil, he shows, that God 
in making a difference could not have had any regard to 
works, for they were not yet done. Now they who argue on 
the other side, and say, that this is no reason why the elec- 
tion of God should not make a difference between men ac- 
cording to the merits of works, for God foresees who those 
are who by future works would be worthy or unworthy of 
his grace, are not more clear-sighted than Paul, but stumble 
at k a principle in theology, which ought to be well known to 
all Christians, namely, that God can see nothing in the cor- 
rupt nature of man, such as was in Esau and Jacob, to in- 
duce him to manifest his favour. When therefore he says, 
that neither of them had then done any good or evil, what he 
took as granted must also be added, — that they were both 
the children of Adam, by nature sinful, and endued with no 
particle of righteousness. 

I do not dwell thus long on explaining these things, be- 
cause the meaning of the Apostle is obscure ; but as the So- 
phists, being not content with his plain sense, endeavour to 
evade it by frivolous distinctions, I wished to show, that 
Paul was by no means ignorant of those things which they 


It may further be said, that though that corruption alone, 
which is diffused through the whole race of man, is sufficient, 
before it breaks out, as they say, into action, for condemna- 
tion, and hence it follows, that Esau was justly rejected, for 
he was naturally a child of wrath, it was yet necessary, lest 
any doubt should remain, as though his condition became 
worse through any vice or fault, that sins no less than virtues 
should be excluded. It is indeed true, that the proximate 
cause of reprobation is the curse we all inherit from Adam ; 
yet, that we may learn to acquiesce in the bare and simple 
good pleasure of God, Paul withdraws us from this view, un- 
til he has established this doctrine, — That God has a suffi- 
ciently just reason for electing and for reprobating, in his 
own will. 1 

That the purpose of God according to election, &c. He 
speaks of the gratuitous election of God almost in every in- 
stance. If works had any place, he ought to have said, — 
" That his reward might stand through works ;" but he men- 
tions the purpose of God, which is included, so to speak, in 
his own good pleasure alone. And that no ground of dis- 
pute might remain on the subject, he has removed all doubt 
by adding another clause, according to election, and then a 
third, not through works, but through him who calls. Let us 
now then apply our minds more closely to this passage : 
Since the purpose of God according to election is established 

1 Archbishop Usher asks this question, " Did God, before he made man, 
determine to save some and reject others ?" To this he gives this answer, 
— " Yes, surely : before they had done either good or evil, God in his eter- 
nal counsel set them apart." It is the same sentiment that is announced 
here by Calvin. But to deduce it from what is said of Jacob and Esau, 
does not seem legitimate, inasmuch as they were in a fallen condition 
by nature, and the reference is evidently made to anything done person- 
ally by themselves. Election and reprobation most clearly presuppose 
man as fallen and lost : it is hence indeed, that the words derive their 
meaning. That it was God's eternal purpose to choose some of man's 
fallen race, and to leave others to perish, is clearly taught us : but this is 
a different question from the one touched upon here, — that this purpose 
was irrespective of man's fall, — a sentiment which, as far as I can see, is 
not recognised nor taught in Scripture. And not only Calvin, but many 
other divines, both before and after him, seem to have gone in this re- 
spect somewhat beyond the limits of revelation ; it is true, by a process of 
reasoning apparently obvious ; but when we begin to reason on this high 
and mysterious subject, we become soon bewildered and lost in mazes of 
difficulties. — Ed. 


in this way, — that before the brothers were born, and had 
done either good or evil, one was rejected and the other 
chosen ; it hence follows, that when any one ascribes the cause 
of the difference to their works, he thereby subverts the pur- 
pose of God. Now, by adding, not through works, but through 
him ivho calls, he means, not on account of works, but of the 
calling only ; for he wishes to exclude works altogether. We 
have then the whole stability of our election inclosed in the 
purpose of God alone : here merits avail nothing, as they 
issue in nothing but death ; no worthiness is regarded, for 
there is none ; but the goodness of God reigns alone. False 
then is the dogma, and contrary to God's word, — tbat God 
elects or rejects, as he foresees each to be worthy or un- 
worthy of his favour. 1 

12. The elder shall serve the younger. See how the Lord 
makes a difference between the sons of Isaac, while they 
were as yet in their mother's womb ; for this was the hea- 

1 Nothing can be conceived more conclusive in argument than what is 
contained here. The idea of foreseen works, as the reason or the ground of 
election, is wholly excluded. The choice is expressly denied to be on ac- 
count of any works, and is as expressly ascribed to the sovereign will of 

" He does not oppose works to faith, but to him who calls, or to the 
calling, which precedes faith, that is, to that calling which is according to 
God's purpose. Paul means, that the difference between Jacob and Esau 
was made through the sole will and pleasure of God, not through their 
wills or works, existing or foreseen." — Poll. Syn. 

Yet some of the Fathers, as Chrysostom and Theodoret, as well as some 
moaern divines, ascribe election to foreseen works. How this is reconcil- 
able with the argument of the Apostle, and with the instances he adduces, 
it is indeed a very hard matter to see. One way by which the Apostle's 
argument is evaded, is, that the election here is to temporal and outward 
privileges. Be it so : let this be granted ; but it is adduced by the Apostle 
as an illustration — and of what ? most clearly of spiritual and eternal elec- 
tion. He refers both to the same principle, to the free choice of God, and 
not to anything in man. " God foresaw the disposition of each." — Theo- 
doret and Chrysostom. " His election corresponds with the foreseen dis- 
position of men." — Theodoret. " It was done by the prescience of God, 
whereby he knew while yet unborn, what each would be." — Augustine. 
These are quotations made by a modern writer (Bosanquet) with appro- 
bation : but surely nothing could be suggested more directly contrary to 
the statements and the argument of the Apostle. There is a mistake, I 
apprehend, as to the last quotation ; perhaps similar to that made in quot- 
ing Augustine on the latter part of the 7th chapter of this Epistle, where 
the writer quotes a sentiment of Augustine, which he afterwards retracted, 
a thing which has been often done by the advocates of Popery, but by no 
means becoming a Protestant. — Ed. 


venly answer, by which it appeared that God designed to 
show to the younger peculiar favour, which he denied to the 
eldei\ Though this indeed had reference to the right of 
primogeniture, yet in this, as the symbol of something 
greater, was manifested the will of God : and that this was 
the case we may easily perceive, when we consider what 
little benefit, according to the flesh, Jacob derived from his 
primogeniture. For he was, on its account, exposed to great 
danger; and to avoid this danger, he was obliged to quit his 
home and his country, and was unkindly treated in his exile : 
when he returned, he tremblingly, and in doubt of his life, 
prostrated himself at the feet of his brother, humbly asked 
forgiveness for his offence, and lived through the indulgence 
shown to him. Where was his dominion over his brother, 
from whom he was constrained to seek by entreaty his life ? 
There was then something greater than the primogeniture 
promised in the answer given by the Lord. 

13. As it is written, Jacob I loved, &c. He confirms, by 
a still stronger testimony, how much the heavenly answer, 
given to Rebecca, availed to his present purpose, that is, 
that the spiritual condition of both was intimated by the 
dominion of Jacob and servitude of Esau, and also that 
Jacob obtained this favour through the kindness of God, 
and not through his own merit. Then this testimony of the 
prophet shows the reason why the Lord conferred on Jacob 
the primogeniture : and it is taken from the first chapter of 
Malachi, where the Lord, reproaching the Jews for their in- 
gratitude, mentions his former kindness to them, — " I have 
loved you," he says ; and then he refers to the origin of his 
love, — " Was not Esau the brother of Jacob ?" as though he 
said, — " What privilege had he, that I should prefer him to 
his brother ? None whatever. It was indeed an equal right, 
except that by the law of nature the younger ought to have 
served the elder ; I yet chose the one, and rejected the 
other ; and I was thus led by my mercy alone, and by no 
worthiness as to works. I therefore chose you for my people, 
that I might show the same kindness to the seed of Jacob ; 
but I rejected the Edomitcs, the progeny of Esau. Ye are 
then so much the worse, inasmuch as the remembrance of so 


great a favour cannot stimulate you to adore my majesty." 1 
Now, though earthly blessings are there recorded, which 
God had conferred on the Israelites, it is not yet right to 
view them but as symbols of his benevolence : for where the 
wrath of God is, there death follows ; but where his love is, 
there is life. 

14. What shall we say then ? Is 14. Quid ergo dicemus ? num in- 
there unrighteousness with God ? justitia est apud Deum ? Absit : 
God forbid. 

15. For he saith to Moses, I will 15. Moses enim dicit, Miserebor 
have mercy on whom I will have eujus miserebor, et miserebor quem 
mercy, and I will have compassion miseratus fuero. 

on whom I will have compassion. 

16. So then it is not of him that 16. Ergo non volentis neque cur- 
willeth, nor of him that runneth, but rentis, sed miserentis est Dei. 

of God that sheweth mercy. 

17. For the scripture saith unto 17. Dicit enim Scriptura Phara- 
Pharaoh, Even for this same pur- oni, In hoc ipsum excitavi te, ut os- 
pose have I raised thee up, that I tendam in te potentiam meam, et ut 
might shew my power in thee, and prredicetur nomen meum in universa 
that my name might be declared terra. 

throughout all the earth. 

18. Therefore hath he mercy on 18. Ergo cujus vult miseretur, et 
whom he will have mercy, and whom quem vult indurat. 

he will he hardeneth. 

14. What then shall we say ? &c. The flesh cannot hear 
of this wisdom of God without being instantly disturbed by 
numberless questions, and without attempting in a manner 
to call God to an account. We hence find that the Apostle, 
whenever he treats of some high mystery, obviates the many 
absurdities by which he knew the minds of men would be 
otherwise possessed ; for when men hear anything of what 
Scripture teaches respecting predestination, they are espe- 
cially entangled with very many impediments. 

The predestination of God is indeed in reality a labyrinth, 
from which the mind of man can by no means extricate it- 
self : but so unreasonable is the curiosity of man, that the 
more perilous the examination of a subject is, the more 
boldly he proceeds ; so that when predestination is discussed, 
as he cannot restrain himself within due limits, he immedi- 

1 The meaning of the words " loving " and " hating " is here rightly ex- 
plained. It is usual in Scripture to state a preference in terms like these. 
See Gen. xxix. 31 ; Luke xiv. 26 ; John xii. 25. — Ed. 



ately, tlirougli his rashness, plunges himself, as it were, into 
the depth of the sea. What remedy then is there for the 
godly ? Must they avoid every thought of predestination ? 
By no means : for as the Holy Spirit has taught us nothing 
but what it behoves us to know, the knowledge of this would 
no doubt be useful, provided it be confined to the word of 
God. Let this then be our sacred rule, to seek to know 
nothing concerning it, except what Scripture teaches us : 
when the Lord closes his holy mouth, let us also stop the 
way, that we may not go farther. But as we are men, to 
whom foolish questions naturally occur, let us hear from 
Paul how they are to be met. 

Is there unrighteousness with God f Monstrous surely is 
the madness of the human mind, that it is more disposed to 
charge God with unrighteousness than to blame itself for 
blindness. Paul indeed had no wish to go out of his way to 
find out things by which he might confound his readers ; 
but he took up as it were from what was common the wicked 
suggestion, which immediately enters the minds of many, 
when they hear that God determines respecting every indi- 
vidual according to his own will. It is indeed, as the flesh 
imagines, a kind of injustice, that God should pass by one 
and show regard to another. 

In order to remove this difficulty, Paul divides his subject 
into two parts ; in the former of which he speaks of the 
elect, and in the latter of the reprobate ; and in the one lie 
would have us to contemplate the mercy of God, and in the 
other to acknowledge his righteous judgment. His first 
reply is, that the thought that there is injustice with God 
deserves to be abhorred, and then he shows that with regard 
to the two parties, there can be none. 

But before we proceed further, we may observe that this 
very objection clearly proves, that inasmuch as God elects 
some and passes by others, the cause is not to be found in 
anything else but in his own purpose ; for if the difference 
had been based on works, Paul would have to no purpose 
mentioned this question respecting the unrighteousness of 
God, no suspicion could have been entertained concerning it 
if God dealt with every one according to his merit. It may 


also, in the second place, be noticed, that though he saw 
that this doctrine could not be touched without exciting- 
instant clamours and dreadful blasphemies, he yet freely 
and openly brought it forward ; nay, he does not conceal 
how much occasion for murmuring and clamour is given to 
us, when we hear that before men are born their lot is as- 
signed to each by the secret will of God ; and yet, notwith- 
standing all this, he proceeds, and without any subterfuges, 
declares what he had learned from the Holy Spirit. It 
hence follows, that their fancies are by no means to be en- 
dured, who aim to appear wiser than the Holy Spirit, in re- 
moving and pacifying offences. That they may not crimi- 
nate God, they ought honestly to confess that the salvation 
or the perdition of men depends on his free election. Were 
they to restrain their minds from unholy curiosity, and to 
bridle their tongues from immoderate liberty, their modesty 
and sobriety would be deserving of approbation ; but to put 
a restraint on the Holy Spirit and on Paul, what audacity 
it is ! Let then such magnanimity ever prevail in the 
Church of God, as that godly teachers may not be ashamed 
to make an honest profession of the true doctrine, however 
hated it may be, and also to refute whatever calumnies the 
ungodly may bring forward. 

15. For he saith to Moses, &C. 1 With regard to the elect, 
God cannot be charged with any unrighteousness ; for 
according to his good pleasure he favours them with mercy : 
and yet even in this case the flesh finds reasons for mur- 
muring, for it cannot concede to God the right of showing- 
favour to one and not to another, except the cause be made 
evident. As then it seems unreasonable that some should 
without merit be preferred to others, the petulancy of men 
quarrels with God, as though he deferred to persons more 

1 The quotation is from Ex. xxxiii. 19, and literally from the Septuagint. 
The verb l\da> is to be taken here in the sense of showing favour rather 
than mercy, according to the meaning of the Hebrew word ; for the idea 
of mercy is what the other verb, olxn'^a, conveys. Schleusner renders it 
here and in some other passages in this sense. The rendering then would 
be — " I will favour whom I favour," that is, whom I choose to favour ; " and 
I will pity whom I pity," which means whom I choose to pity. The latter 
verb in both clauses is in Hebrew in the future tense, but rendered pro- 
perly in Greek in the present, as it commonly expresses a present act. — Ed. 


than what is right. Let us now see how Paul defends the 
righteousness of God. 

In the first place, he does by no means conceal or hide 
what he saw would be disliked, but proceeds to maintain 
it with -inflexible firmness. And in the second place, he 
labours not to seek out reasons to soften its asperity, but 
considers it enough to check vile barkings by the testimonies 
of Scripture. 

It may indeed appear a frigid defence that God is not 
unjust, because he is merciful to whom he pleases ; but as 
God regards his own authority alone as abundantly sufficient, 
so that he needs the defence of none, Paul thought it 
enough to appoint him the vindicator of his own right. 
Now Paul brings forward here the answer which Moses re- 
ceived from the Lord, when he prayed for the salvation of 
the whole people, " I will show mercy/' was God's answer, 
" on whom I will show mercy, and I will have compassion 
on whom I will have compassion." By this oracle the 
Lord declared that he is a debtor to none of mankind, and 
that whatever he gives is a gratuitous benefit, and then that 
his kindness is free, so that he can confer it on whom he 
pleases ; and lastly, that no cause higher than his own will 
can be thought of, why he does good and shows favour to 
some men but not to all. The words indeed mean as much 
as though he had said, " From him to whom I have once 
purposed to show mercy, I will never take it away ; and 
with perpetual kindness will I follow him to whom I have 
determined to be kind." And thus he assigns the highest 
reason for imparting grace, even his own voluntary purpose, 
and also intimates that he has designed his mercy peculiarly 
for some ; for it is a way of speaking which excludes all 
outward causes, as when we claim to ourselves the free 
power of acting, we say, " I will do what I mean to do." 
The relative pronoun also expressly intimates, that mercy 
is not to all indiscriminately. His freedom is taken away 
from God, when his election is bound to external causes. 

The only true cause of salvation is expressed in the two 
words used by Moses. The first is pPl, chenen, which means 
to favour or to show kindness freely and bountifully ; the 


other is D!"n, rechem, which is to be treated with mercy. 
Thus is confirmed what Paul intended, that the mercy of 
God, being gratuitous, is under no restraint, but turns 
wherever it pleases. 1 

16. It is not then of him who luills, &c. From the testi- 
mony adduced he draws this inference, that beyond all con- 
troversy our election is not to be ascribed to our diligence, 
nor to our striving, nor to our efforts, but that it is wholly 
to be referred to the counsel of God. That none of you may 
think that they who are elected are elected because they are 
deserving, or because they had in any way procured for 
themselves the favour of God, or, in short, because they had 
in them a particle of worthiness by which God might be 
moved, take simply this view of the matter, that it is neither 
by our will nor efforts, (for he has put running for striving or 
endeavour,) that we are counted among the elect, but that 
it wholly depends on the divine goodness, which of itself 
chooses those who neither will, nor strive, nor even think of 
such a thing. And they who reason from this passage, that 
there is in us some power to strive, but that it effects no- 
thing of itself unless assisted by God's mercy, maintain 
what is absurd ; for the Apostle shows not what is in us, 
but excludes all our efforts. It is therefore a mere sophistry 
to say that we will and run, because Paul denies that it is 
of him who wills or runs, since he meant nothing else than 
that neither willing nor running can do anything. 

They are, however, to be condemned who remain secure 
and idle on the pretence of giving place to the grace of God ; 
for though nothing is done by their own striving, yet that 
effort which is influenced by God is not ineffectual. These 

1 These two words clearly show that election regards man as fallen ; for 
favour is what is shown to the undeserving, and mercy to the wretched and 
miserable, so that the choice that is made is out of the corrupted mass of 
mankind, contemplated in that state, and not as in a state of innocency. 
Augustine says, " Deus alios facit vasa irse secundum meritum ; alios vasa 
misericordise secundum gratiam — God makes some vessels of wrath accord- 
ing to their merit ; others vessels of mercy according to his grace." In 
another place he says, " Deus ex eadem massa danmata originaliter, tan- 
quam figulus, fecit aliud vas ad honorem, aliud in contumeliam — God, as 
a potter, made of the same originally condemned mass, one vessel to honour, 
another to dishonour." " Two sorts of vessels God forms out of the great 
lump of fallen mankind." — Henry. 


things, then, are not said that we may quench the Spirit of 
God, while kindling sparks within us, by our waywardness 
and sloth ; but that we may understand that everything 
we have is from him, and that we may hence learn to ask 
all things of him, to hope for all things from him, and to 
ascribe all things to him, while we are prosecuting the work 
of our salvation with fear and trembling. 

Pelagius has attempted by another sophistical and worth- 
less cavil to evade this declaration of Paul, that it is not 
only of him who wills and runs, because the mercy of God 
assists. But Augustine, not less solidly than acutely, thus 
refuted him, " If the will of man is denied to be the cause 
of election, because it is not the sole cause, but only in part ; 
so also we may say that it is not of mercy but of him who 
wills and runs, for where there is a mutual co-operation, 
there ought to be a reciprocal commendation : but unques- 
tionably the latter sentiment falls through its own absurdity." 
Let us then feel assured that the salvation of those whom 
God is pleased to save, is thus ascribed to his mercy, that 
nothing may remain to the contrivance of man. 1 

1 The terms "willing" and "running "are evidently derived from the 
circumstances connected with the history of Esau . " In vain," says Tur- 
rettin, " did Esaii seek the blessing. In vain did Isaac hasten to grant it, 
and in vain did Esau run to procure venison for his father ; neither the 
father's willingness nor the running of the son availed anything : God's 
favour overruled the whole." But the subject handled is God's sovereignty 
in the manifestation of his favour and grace. Esau was but a type of the 
unbelieving Jews, when the gospel was proclaimed, and of thousands of 
such as are in name Christians. There is some sort of " willing," and a 
great deal of " running," and yet the blessing is not attained. There 
was much of apparent willing and running in the strict formality and zeal 
of Pharisaism, and there is much of the same kind still in the austerities 
and mechanical worship of superstition, and also in the toils and devotions 
of self- righteousness. The word or the revealed will of God is in all these 
instances misunderstood and neglected. 

Isaac's "willingness" to give the blessing to Esau, notwithstanding the 
announcement made at his birth, and Rebecca's conduct in securing it to 
Jacob, are singular instances of man's imperfections, and of the overruling 
power of God. Isaac acted as though he had forgotten what God had 
expressed as his will ; and Rebecca acted as though God could not effect 
his purpose without her interference, and an interference, too, in a way 
highly improper and sinful. It was the trial of faith, and the faith of both 
halted exceedingly ; yet the purpose of God was still fulfilled, but the 
improper manner in which it was fulfilled was afterwards visited with God's 
displeasure. — Ed. 


Nor is there much more colour for what some advance, 
who think that these things are said in the person of the un- 
godly ; for how can it be right to turn passages of Scripture 
in which the justice of God is asserted, for the purpose of 
reproaching him with tyranny ? and then is it probable that 
Paul, when the refutation was at hand and easy, would have 
suffered the Scripture to be treated with gross mockery ? 
But such subterfuges have they laid hold on, who absurdly 
measured this incomj)ai*able mystery of God by their own 
judgment. To their delicate and tender ears this doctrine 
was more grating than that they could think it worthy of an 
Apostle. But they ought rather to have bent their own 
stubbornness to the obedience of the Spirit, that they might 
not surrender themselves up to their gross inventions. 

17. For the Scripture saith, &c. He comes now to the 
second part, the rejection of the ungodly, and as there seems 
to be something more unreasonable in this, he endeavours to 
make it more fully evident, how God, in rejecting whom he 
wills, is not only irreprehensible, but also wonderful in his 
wisdom and justice. He then takes his proof from Exodus 
ix. 16, where the Lord declares that it was he who raised up 
Pharaoh for this end, that while he obstinately strove to 
resist the power of God, he might, by being overcome and 
subdued, afford a proof how invincible the arm of God is ; 
to bear which, much less to resist it, no human power is able. 
S^e then the example which the Lord designed to exhibit 
in Pharaoh ! 1 

There are here two things to be considered, — the predes- 
tination of Pharaoh to ruin, which is to be referred to the 
past and yet the hidden counsel of God, — and then, the 
design of this, which was to make known the name of God ; 
and on this does Paul primarily dwell : for if this harden- 
ing was of such a kind, that on its account the name of God 
deserved to be made known, it is an impious thing, accord- 

1 " For," at the beginning of this verse, connects it with the 14th ; it is 
the second reason given for what that verse contains : this is in accord- 
ance with Paul's manner of writing, and it may be rendered here, moreover, 
or besides, or farther. Macknight renders it " besides." Were y«g ren- 
dered thus in many instances, the meaning would be much more evident. 
— Ed. 


ing to evidence derived from the contrary effect, to charge 
him with any unrighteousness. 

But as many interpreters, striving to modify this passage, 
pervert it, we must first observe, that for the word, " I have 
raised," or stirred up, (excitavi,) the Hebrew is, " I have ap- 
pointed/' (constitui,) by which it appears, that God, design- 
ing to show, that the contumacy of Pharaoh would not 
prevent him to deliver his people, not only affirms, that his 
fury had been foreseen by him, and that he had prepared 
means for restraining it, but that he had also thus designedly 
ordained it, and indeed for this end, — that he might exhibit 
a more illustrious evidence of his own power. 1 Absurdly 

1 It is somewhat remarkable, that Paul, in quoting this passage, Exod. 
ix. 16, substitutes a clause for the first that is given by the Septuagint : 
instead of " l»ww rovro larn^ns — on this account thou hast been pre- 
served," he gives, " us «J« tovto \%«yup«. <n — for this very end have I 
raised thee." The Hebrew is, " And indeed for this end have I made thee 
to stand, "prnDJjn." The verb used by Paul is found only in one other 
place in the New Testament, 1 Cor. vi. 14 ; where it refers to the resur- 
rection. In the Septuagint it often occurs, but never, as Stuart tells us, 
in the sense of creating, or bringing into existence, but in that of exciting, 
rousing from sleep, or rendering active. References are made to Gen. 
xxviii. 16 ; Judges v. 12 ; Ps. vii. 7 : Jer. 1. 41 ; Joel iii. 9, &c. Hence 
it is by him rendered here, " I have roused thee up." But to make the 
Hebrew verb to bear this sense is by no means easy : the three places re- 
ferred to, Neh. vi. 7, and Dan. xi. 11 and 13, do not seem to afford a 
satisfactory proof. Ps. cvii. 25, is more to the point. Its first meaning 
is, to make to stand, and then, to present persons, Numb. xiii. 6, — to estab- 
lish or make strong a kingdom or a city, 1 Kings xv. 4, — to fix persons in 
office, 2 Chron. xxxv. 2, — to set up or build a house, Ezra ix. 9, — to appoint 
teachers, Neh. vi. 7, — and to arrange or set in order an army, Dan. xi. 
13. Such are the ideas included in this verb. " I have made thee 
to stand," established, or made thee strong, may be its meaning in this 
passage. To establish or to make one strong, is more than to preserve, 
the word used by the Septuagint : and-hence it was, it may be, that Paul 
adopted another word, which conveys the idea, that Pharaoh had been ele- 
vated into greater power than his predecessors, which the Hebrew verb 
seems to imply. 

Venema, as well as Stuart, thought that the idea of exciting, rousing in- 
to action, or stimulating, is to be ascribed to the verbs here used, and that 
what is meant is, that God by his plagues awakened and excited all the 
evil that was in Pharaoh's heart for the purposes here described, and 
that by this process he " hardened" him; and the conclusion of verse 28 
seems to favour this view, for the hardening mentioned there can have no 
reference to anything in the context except to what is said in this verse. 

But the simpler view is that mentioned by Wolfius — that reference is 
made to the dangers which Pharaoh had already escaped. God says, " I 
have made thee to stand," i.e., to remain alive in the midst of them. We 
hence see the reason why Paul changed the verb ; for " preserve," used 


then do some render this passage, — that Pharaoh was pre- 
served for a time ; for his beginning is what is spoken of 
here. For, seeing many things from various quarters happen 
to men, which retard their purposes and imjDede the course 
of their actions, God says, that Pharaoh proceeded from 
him, and that his condition was by himself assigned to him : 
and with this view agrees the verb, / have raised up. But 
that no one may imagine, that Pharaoh was moved from 
above by some kind of common and indiscriminate impulse, 
to rush headlong into that madness the special cause, or 
end, Is mentioned ; as though it had been said, — that God 
not only knew what Pharaoh would do, but also designedly 
ordained him for this purpose. It hence follows, that it is 
in vain to contend with him, as though he were bound to 
give a reason ; for he of himself comes forth before us, and 
anticipates the objection, by declaring, that the reprobate, 
through whom he designs his name to be made known, pro- 
ceed from the hidden fountain of his providence. 

18. To whom he wills then he shoiveth w.ercy, &c. Here 
follows the conclusion of both parts ; which can b} r no means 
be understood as being the language of any other but of 
the Apostle ; for he immediately addresses an opponent, 
and adduces what might have been objected by an opposite 
party. There is therefore no doubt but that Paul, as we have 
already reminded you, speaks these things in his own person, 
namely, that God, according to his own will, favours with 
mercy them whom he pleases, and unsheathes the severity 
of his judgment against whomsoever it seemeth him good. 
That our mind may be satisfied with the difference which 
exists between the elect and the reprobate, and may not 
inquire for any cause higher than the divine will, his pur- 
pose was to convince us of this — that it seems good to God 
to illuminate some that they may be saved, and to blind 
others that they may perish : for we ought particularly to 
notice these words, to whom he wills, and, whom he wills : 
beyond this he allows us not to proceed. 

by the Septuagint, did not fully express the meaning ; but to " raise up," 
as it were from the jaws of death, conveys more fully what is meant by 
the original. — Ed. 


But the word hardens, when applied to God in Scripture, 
means not only permission, (as some washy moderators 
would have it,) but also the operation of the wrath of God : 
for all those external things, which lead to the blinding of 
the reprobate, are the instruments of his wrath ; and Satan 
himself, who works inwardly with great power, is so far his 
minister, that he acts not, but by his command. 1 Then 
that frivolous evasion, which the schoolmen have recourse 
to respecting foreknowledge, falls to the ground : for Paul 
teaches us, that the ruin of the wicked is not only foreseen 
by the Lord, but also ordained by his counsel and his will ; 
and Solomon teaches us the same thing, — that not only the 
destruction of the wicked is foreknown, but that the wicked 
themselves have been created for this very end — that they 
may perish. (Prov. xvi. 4.) 

1 Much has been unnecessarily written on this subject of hardening. 
Pharaoh is several times said to have hardened his own heart, and God 
is said also several times to have hardened him too. The Scripture in 
many instances makes no minute distinctions, for these may be easily 
gathered from the general tenor of its teaching. God is in his nature 
holy, and therefore hardening as his act cannot be sinful : and as he is 
holy, he hates sin and punishes it ; and for this purpose he employs wicked 
men, and even Satan himself, as in the case of Ahab. As a punishment, 
he affords occasions and opportunities to the obstinate even to increase 
their sins, and thus in an indirect way hardens them in their rebellion 
and resistance to his will ; and this was exactly the case with Pharaoh. 
This, as Calvin says, was the operation or working of his wrath. The 
history of Pharaoh is a sufficient explanation of what is said here. He 
was a cruel tyrant and oppressor : and God in his first message to Moses 
said, " I am sure that the king of Egypt will not 'let you go, no, not by a 
mighty hand." God might indeed have softened his heart and disposed 
him to allow them to depart : but it pleased him to act otherwise, and to 
manifest his power and his greatness in another way : so that " whom he 
wills, he favours, and whom he wills, he hardens ;" and for reasons known 
only to himself. 

Reference is at the end of this section made to Prov. xvi. 4. The 
creation mentioned can be understood in no other sense than the continued 
exercise of divine power in bringing into existence human beings in their 
present fallen state. But " creation" is not the word used, nor is the pas- 
sage correctly rendered. It is not N"Q nor HK'y, but 7JJD; and it is,' not a 
verb but a substantive. Literally rendered the passage is the following — 
Every work of Jehovah is for its (or, his) purpose, 
And even the wicked is for the day of calamity. 

The Rev. O. Ilolden is very indignant that this text has been applied 
to support the doctrine of reprobation. Be it, that it has been misap- 
plied ; yet the doctrine does not thereby fall to the ground. If Paul docs 
not maintain it in this chapter and in other passages, we must hold that 


19. Thou wilt say then unto me, 19. Dices itaque mihi, Quid adhuc 
Why doth he yet find fault ? For who conqueritur ? voluntati ejus quis re- 
hath resisted his will ? stitit ? 

20. Nay but, O man, who art 20. Atqui, O homo, tu quis es 
thou that repliest against God? Shall qui contendisjudicio cum Deo! num 
the thing formed say to him that dicit fictile figulo, cur me sic fecisti ? 
formed it, Why hast thou made me 


21. Hath not the potter power 21. An non habet potestatem fi- 
over the clay, of the same lump to gulus luti ex eadem massa, faciendi, 
make one vessel unto honour, and aliud quidem vas in honorem, aliud 
another unto dishonour ? in contumeliam ? 

19. Thou wilt then say, &c. Here indeed the flesh espe- 
cially storms, that is, when it hears that they who perish have 
been destined by the will of God to destruction. Hence the 
Apostle adopts again the words of an opponent ; for he saw 
that the mouths of the ungodly could not be restrained from 
boldly clamouring against the righteousness of God : and 
he very fitly expresses their mind ; for being not content 
with defending themselves, they make God guilty instead 
of themselves ; and then, after having devolved on him the 
blame of their own condemnation, they become indignant 
against his great power. 1 They are indeed constrained to 
yield ; but they storm, because they cannot resist ; and as- 
cribing dominion to him, they in a manner charge him with 
tyranny. In the same manner the Sophists in their schools 
foolishly dispute on what they call his absolute justice, as 
though forgetful of his own righteousness, he would try the 
ptower of his authority by throwing all things into confusion. 
Thus then speak the ungodly in this passage, — " What cause 
has he to be angry with us ? Since he has formed us such as 
we are, since he leads us at his will where he pleases, what 
else does he in destroying us but punish his own work in us ? 
For it is not in our power to contend with him ; how much 
soever we may resist, he will yet have the upper hand. Then 
unjust will be his judgment, if he condemns us ; and unre- 

words have no meaning. The history of God's providence is an obvious 
confirmation of the same awful truth. — Ed. 

1 The clause rendered by Calvin, " Quid adhuc conqueritur — why does 
he yet complain :" is rendered by Beza, " Quid adhuc succenset — why is 
he yet angry ?" Our common version is the best, and is followed by Dod- 
dridge, Macknight, and Stuart. The y«.£, in the next clause, is omitted 
by Calvin, but Griesbach says that it ought to be retained. — Ed. 


strainable is the power which he now employs towards us." 
What does Paul say to these things ? 

20. But, man ! who art thou ? &C. 1 As it is a participle 
in Greek, we may read what follows in the present tense, 
who disputest, or contendest, or strivest in opposition to God ; 
for it is expressed in Greek according to this meaning, — • 
"Who art thou who enterest into a dispute with God?" 
But there is not much difference in the sense. 2 In this first 
answer, he does nothing else but beat down impious blas- 
phemy by an argument taken from the condition of man : 
he will presently subjoin another, by which he will clear the 
righteousness of God from all blame. 

It is indeed evident that no cause is adduced higher than 
the will of God. Since there was a ready answer, that the 
difference depends on just reasons, why did not Paul adopt 
such a brief reply ? But he placed the will of God in the 
highest rank for this reason, — that it alone may suffice us 
for all other causes. No doubt, if the objection had been 
false, that God according to his own will rejects those whom 
he honours not with his favour, and choOses those whom he 
gratuitously loves, a refutation would not have been ne- 
glected by Paul. The ungodly object and say, that men are 
exempted from blame, if the will of God holds the first place 
in their salvation, or in their perdition. Does Paul deny 
this ? Nay, by his answer he confirms it, that is, that God 
determines concerning men, as it seems good to him, and 
that men in vain and madly rise up to contend with God ; 
for he assigns, by his own right, whatever lot he pleases to 
what he forms. 

But they who say that Paul, wanting reason, had recourse 

1 " But " is not sufficiently emphatical here ; ptvovvyc ; " yes, verily," in 
ch. x. 18 ; " yea, rather," in Luke xi. 28 ; " doubtless," in Phil. iii. 8 ; it 
may be rendered here, " nay, rather." — Ed. 

2 " Quis es qui contendas judicio cum Deo;" r« u h avTa^ox^r/o/juvoi, r» 
eta ; " that repliest against God," is the rendering of Macknight and 
/Stuart ; " who enterest into a debate with God," is what Doddridge gives. 
The verb occurs once in another place, Luke xiv. 6, and " answer again " 
is our version. Schleusner says that «v™ prefixed to verbs is often redun- 
dant. In Job xvi. 8, and xxxii. 12, this compound is used by the Septua- 
gint simply in the sense of answering, for i"IJJJ. He renders it here, " cum 
Deo altercari — to quarrel, or, dispute with God." — Ed. 


to reproof, cast a grievous calumny on the Holy Spirit : for 
the things calculated to vindicate God's justice, and ready 
at hand, he was at first unwilling to adduce, for they could 
not have been comprehended ; yea, he so modifies his second 
reason, that he does not undertake a full defence, but in 
such a manner as to give a sufficient demonstration of God's 
justice, if it be considered by us with devout humility and 

He reminds man of what is especially meet for him to 
remember, that is, of his own condition ; as though he had 
said, — " Since thou art man, thou ownest thyself to be dust 
and ashes ; why then doest thou contend with the Lord 
about that which thou art not able to understand f In a 
word, the Apostle did not bring forward what might have 
been said, but what is suitable to our ignorance. Proud 
men clamour, because Paul, admitting that men are rejected 
or chosen by the secret counsel of God, alleges no cause ; as 
though the Spirit of God were silent for want of reason, and 
not rather, that by his silence he reminds us, that a mystery 
which our minds cannot comprehend ought to be reverently 
adored, and that he thus checks the wantonness of human 
curiosity. Let us then know, that God does for no other 
reason refrain from speaking, but that he sees that we can- 
not contain his immense wisdom in our small measure ; and 
thus regarding our weakness, he leads us to moderation and 

Does what is formed ? &c. We see that Paul dwells con- 
tinually on this,— that the will of God, though its reason is 
hid from us, is to be counted just ; for he shows that he is 
deprived of his right, if he is not at liberty to determine 
what he sees meet concerning his creatures. This seems un- 
pleasant to the ears of many. There are also those who 
pretend that God is exposed to great reproach were such a 
power ascribed to him, as though they in their fastidious- 
ness were better divines than Paul, who has laid down this 
as the rule of humility to the faithful, that they are to ad- 
mire the sovereignty of God, and not to estimate it by their 
own judgment. 

But he represses this arrogance of contending with God 


by a most apt similitude, in which he seems to have alluded 
to Is. xlv. 9, rather than to Jer. xviii. 6 ; for nothing else is 
taught us by Jeremiah, than that Israel was in the hand of 
the Lord, so that he could for his sins wholly break him in 
pieces, as a potter the earthen vessel. But Isaiah ascends 
higher, " Woe to him," he says, " who speaks against his 
maker ;" that is, the pot that contends with the former of the 
clay ; " shall the clay say to its former, what doest thou V 
&c. And surely there is no reason for a mortal man to think 
himself better than earthen vessel, when he compares him- 
self with God. We are not however to be over-particular in 
applying this testimony to our present subject, since Paul 
only meant to allude to the words of the Prophet, in order 
that the similitude might have more weight. 1 

21. Has not the worker of the clay ? &c. The reason why 
what is formed ought not to contend with its former, is, that 
the former does nothing but what he has a right to do. By 
the word power, he means not that the maker has strength 
to do according to his will, but that this privilege rightly 
and justly belongs to him. For he intends not to claim for 
God any arbitrary power but what ought to be justly ascrib- 
ed to him. 

And further, bear this in mind, — that as the potter takes 
away nothing from the clay, whatever form he may give it ; 
so God takes away nothing from man, in whatever condition 
he may create him. Only this is to be remembered, that 
God is deprived of a portion of his honour, except such an 
authority over men be conceded to him as to constitute him 
the arbitrator of life and death. 2 

1 The words in the 20th verse are taken almost literally from Is. xxix. 
16, only the latter clause is somewhat different ; the sentence is, " /*b lg:7 
to T^eio-fica tZ 7tXa.a-a.iTi uvto, ob <rv pi '1-jrXa.ffa.; — shall what is formed say to 
its former, Thou hast not formed me ?" This is a faithful rendering of 
the Hebrew. 

Then the words in the 21st verse are not verbally taken from either of 
the two places referred to above ; but the simile is adopted. — Ed. 

2 The metaphor in these verses is doubtless to be interpreted according 
to the context. Not only Calvin, but many others, have deduced from it 
what is not consistent with what the next verse contains, which gives the 
necessary explanation. By the " mass " or the lump of clay, is not meant 
mankind, contemplated as creatures, but as fallen creatures ; or, as Augus- 
line and Parens call them, " massa damnata — the condemned mass ;" for 


22. What if God, -willing to show 22. Quid autem si Deus volens 
his wrath, and to make his power demonstrare iram, et notam facere 
known, endured with much long- potentiam suam, sustinuit in multa 
suffering the vessels of wrath fitted patientia vasa irse, in interitum ap- 
to destruction : parata; 

23. And that he might make 23. TTt notas quoque faceret divi- 
known the riches of his glory on the tias gloria? suse in vasa rnisericordise, 
vessels of mercy, which he had afore quse preparavit in gloriam ? 
prepared unto glory, 

22. And what, &c. A second answer, by which he briefly 
shows, that though the counsel of God is in fact incompre- 
hensible, yet his unblamable justice shines forth no less in 
the perdition of the reprobate than in the salvation of the 
elect. He does not indeed give a reason for divine election, 
so as to assign a cause why this man is chosen and that man 
rejected ; for it was not meet that the things contained in 
the secret counsel of God should be subjected to the judg- 
ment of men ; and, besides, this mystery is inexplicable. 
He therefore keeps us from curiously examining those things 
which exceed human comprehension. He yet shows, that 
as far as God's predestination manifests itself, it appears 
perfectly just. 

The particles, et he, used by Paul, I take to mean, And 
what if? so that the whole sentence is a question ; and thus 
the sense will be more evident : and there is here an ellipsis, 
when we are to consider this as being understood, — " Who 
t^ien can charge him with unrighteousness, or arraign him ?" 
for here appears nothing but the most perfect course of jus- 
tice. 1 

they are called in the next verse vessels of wrath, that is, the objects of 
wrath ; and such are all by nature, according to what Paul says in Eph. 
ii. 3 ; "we were," he says, " by nature the children of wrath, even as 

" The words, ' I Avill have mercy on whom I will have mercy,' imply 
that all deserved wrath ; so that the lump of clay in the hands of the pot- 
ter must refer to men already existing in God's foreknowledge as fallen 
creatures." — Scott. 

In all the instances in which this metaphor is used by Isaiah and Jere- 
miah, it is applied to the Jews in their state of degeneracy, and very 
pointedly in Isaiah lxiv. 8 : where it is preceded, in the 6th verse, by that 
remarkable passage, " We are all as an unclean thing," &c. The clay 
then, or the mass, is the mass of mankind as corrupted and depraved. — Ed. 

1 Critics have in various ways attempted to supply the ellipsis, but what 
is here proposed is most approved. Beza considered the corresponding 


But if we wish fully to understand Paul, almost every 
word must be examined. He then argues thus, — There are 
vessels prepared for destruction, that is, given up and ap- 
pointed to destruction : they are also vessels of wrath, that 
is, made and formed for this end, that they may be exam- 
ples of God's vengeance and displeasure. If the Lord bears 
patiently for a time with these, not destroying them at the 
first moment, but deferring the judgment prepared for them, 
and this in order to set forth the decisions of his severity, 
that others may be terrified by so dreadful examples, and 
also to make known his power, to exhibit which he makes 
them in various ways to serve ; and, further, that the ampli- 
tude of his mercy towards the elect may hence be more fully 
known and more brightly shine forth ; — what is there worthy 
of being reprehended in this dispensation ? But that he is 
silent as to the reason, why they are vessels appointed to 
destruction, is no matter of wonder. He indeed takes it as 
granted, according to what has been already said, that the 

clause to be at verse 30, and viewed the intervening verses as parenthetic, 
" And if God," &c, — " What then shall we say?" Grotius subjoined, 
" Does God do any wrong?" Eisner, " Has he not the power?" and Wol- 
Jius, " What canst thou say against God ?" Stuart proposes to repeat the 
question in verse 20, " Who art thou ?" &c. Some connect this verse 
with the question in verse 20, and include the latter part of it and verse 
21 in a parenthesis. Whatever way may be adopted, the sense is materially 
the same. It has also been suggested that «i ?£ is for ilirtg, since, seeing, 
2 Thess. i. 6 ; 1 Pet. ii. 3. In this case no apodosis is necessary. But we 
may take tl, as meaning since, and Ti as an illative, and render the three 
verses thus, — 

22. " Since then God willed (or, it was God's will) to show his wrath and to 
make known his power, he endured with much forbearance the vessels 

23. of wrath, fitted for destruction ; so he willed to make known the riches 
of his glory towards the vessels of mercy, whom he has fore-prepared 

24. for glory, even us, whom he has called not only from the Jews but 
also from the Gentiles." 

The verb *«•*•', or fa, is often understood after participles, especially in 
Hebrew; and »«) has the meaning of so in some instances, Matt. vi. 10; Acts 
vii. 51 ; Gal. i. 9 ; and in some cases, as Schleusner says, without being 
preceded by any particle of comparison, such as Matt. xii. 26, and 1 John 
ii. 27, 28 ; but t\ here stands somewhat in that character. 

The beginning of verse 23 presents an anomaly, if, with Stuart and 
others, we consider " willing" or wills to be understood, as it is followed 
in the preceding verse by an infinitive, and here by a subjunctive mood. 
But Beza, Grotius, and Hammond, seem to regard the verb " endured," 
to be here, as it were, repeated, which gives the same meaning to the pas- 
sage as that which is given to it by Calvin. — Ed. 


reason is hid in the secret and inexplorable counsel of God ; 
whose justice it behoves us rather to adore than to scru- 

And he has mentioned vessels, as commonly signifying 
instruments ; for whatever is done by all creatures, is, as it 
were, the ministration of divine power. For the best reason 
then are we, the faithful, called the vessels of mercy, whom 
the Lord uses as instruments for the manifestation of his 
mercy ; and the reprobate are the vessels of wrath, because 
they serve to show forth the judgments of God. 

22. That he might also make known the riches of his glory, 
&c. I doubt not but the two particles kol 'lvcl, is an instance 
of a construction, where the first word is put last ; (varepop 
7rporepov ;) and that this clause may better unite with the 
former, I have rendered it, That he might also make known, 
&c. (Ut notas quoque facer et, &c.) It is the second reason 
which manifests the glory of God in the destruction of the 
reprobate, because the greatness of divine mercy towards the 
elect is hereby more clearly made known ; for how do they 
differ from them except that they are delivered by the Lord 
from the same gulf of destruction ? and this by no merit of 
their own, but through his gratuitous kindness. It cannot 
then be but that the infinite mercy of God towards the elect 
must appear increasingly worthy of praise, when we see how 
^niserable are all they who escape not his wrath. 

The word glory, which is here twice mentioned, I consider 
to have been used for God's mercy, a metonymy of effect for 
the cause ; for his chief praise or glory is in acts of kindness. 
So in Eph. i. 1 3, after having taught us, that we have been 
adopted to the praise of the glory of his grace, he adds, that 
we are sealed by the Spirit of promise unto the praise of 
his glory, the word grace being left out. He wished then 
to show, that the elect are instruments or vessels through 
whom God exercises his mercy, that through them he may 
glorify his name. 

Though in the second clause he asserts more expressly, 
that it is God who prepares the elect for glory, as he had 
simply said before that the reprobate are vessels prepared 
for destruction ; there is yet no doubt but that the prepara- 

2 A 


tion of botli is connected with the secret counsel of God. 
Paul might have otherwise said, that the reprobate give up 
or cast themselves into destruction ; but he intimates here, 
that before they are born they are destined to their lot. 

24. Even us, whom he hath called, 24. Quos etiam vocavit, ninrirum 
not of the Jews only, hut also of the nos, non solum ex Iudseis, sed etiam 
Gentiles ? ex Gentibus : 

25. As he saith also in Osee, I 25. Quemadmodum et in Osee 
will call them my people, which were dicit, Vocabo populum meum eum 
not my people ; and her beloved, qui non est populus, et dilectam earn 
which was not beloved. quae non est dilecta : 

26. And it shall come to pass, that 26. Et erit in loco ubi dictum est 
in the place where it was said unto eis, Non populus meus vos, illic vo- 
them, Ye are not my people ; there cabuntur filii Dei viventis. 

shall they be called the children of 
the living God. 

27. Esaias also crieth concerning 27. Iesaias autem clamat super 
Israel, Though the number of the Israel, Si fuerit numerus filiorum 
children of Israel be as the sand of Israel ut arena maris, reliquiae serva- 
the sea, a remnant shall be saved : buntur : 

28. For he will finish the work, 28. Sermonem enim consummans 
and cut it short in righteousness ; et abbrevians, 1 quoniam sermonem 
because a short work will the Lord abbreviatum faciet Dominus in 
make upon the earth. terra : 

29. And as Esaias said before, Ex- 29. Et quemadmodum prius dix- 
cept the Lord of Sabaoth had left us erat Iesaias, Nisi Dominus Sabbaoth 
a seed, we had been as Sodoma, and reliquisset nobis semen, instar 
been made like unto Gomorrha. Sodoma? facti essemus, et Gomor- 

rhse essemus assimilati. 

24. Whom he also called, &c. From the reasoning which 
he has been hitherto carrying on respecting the freedom of 
divine election, two things follow, — that the grace of God 
is not so confined to the Jewish people that it does not also 
flow to other nations, and diffuse itself through the whole 
world, — and then, that it is not even so tied to the Jews 
that it comes without exception to all the children of Abra- 
ham according to the flesh ; for if God's election is based on 
his own good pleasure alone, wherever his will turns itself, 
there his election exists. Election being then established, 
the way is now in a manner prepared for him to proceed to 
those things which he designed to say respecting the calling 
of the Gentiles, and also respecting the rejection of the Jews; 

1 " In righteousness," left out. The word rendered " matter " is " sermo," 
but it is explained in this sense in the comment. — Ed. 


the first of which seemed strange for its novelty, and the 
other wholly unbecoming. As, however, the last had more 
in it to offend, he speaks in the first place of that which was 
less disliked. He says then, that the vessels of God's mercy, 
whom he selects for the glory of his name, are taken from 
every people, from the Gentiles no less than from the Jews. 

But though in the relative whom the rule of grammar is 
not fully observed by Paul, 1 yet his object was, by making 
as it were a transition, to subjoin that we are the vessels of 
God's glory, who have been taken in part from the Jews 
and in part from the Gentiles ; and he proves from the call- 
ing of God, that there is no difference between nations made 
in election. For if to be descended from the Gentiles was 
no hinderance that God should not call us, it is evident that 
the Gentiles are by no means to be excluded from the king- 
dom of God and the covenant of eternal salvation. 

25. As he says in Hosea, 2 &c. He proves now that the 
calling of the Gentiles ought not to have been deemed a new 
thing, as it had long before been testified by the prediction 
of the prophet. The meaning is evident ; but there is some 
difficulty in the application of this testimony ; for no one 
can deny but that the prophet in that passage speaks of the 
Israelites. For the Lord, having been offended with their 
wickedness, declared that they should be no longer his 
people : he afterwards subjoined a consolation, and said, 
that of those who were not beloved he would make some be- 
loved, and from those who were not a people he would make 
a people. But Paul applies to the Gentiles what was ex- 
pressly spoken to the Israelites. 

They who have hitherto been most successful in untying 
this knot have supposed that Paul meant to adopt this kind 
of reasoning, — " What may seem to be an hinderance to the 
Gentiles to become partakers of salvation did also exist as 
to the Jewish nation : as then God did formerly receive into 
favour the Jews, whom he had cast away and exterminated, 
so also now he exercises the same kindness towards the 

1 It is an instance of Hebraism, the use of a double pronoun — whom and 
us, governed by the same verb. — Ed, 

2 Hos. ii. 23. See 1 Pet. ii. 10. 


Gentiles." But as this interpretation, though it may he 
supported, yet seems to me to he somewhat strained, let the 
readers consider this, — Whether it would not he a more suit- 
able view to regard the consolation given hy the prophet, as 
intended, not only for the Jews, but also for the Gentiles : 
for it was not a new or an unusual thing with the prophets, 
after having pronounced on the Jews God's vengeance on 
account of their sins, to turn themselves to the kingdom of 
Christ, which was to he propagated through the whole world. 
And this they did, not without reason ; for since the Jews 
so provoked God's wrath hy their sins, that they deserved to 
he rejected by him, no hope of salvation remained, except 
they turned to Christ, through whom the covenant of grace 
was to be restored : and as it was based on him, so it was then 
renewed, when he interposed. And doubtless, as Christ was 
the only refuge in great extremities, no solid comfort could 
have been brought to miserable sinners, and such as saw 
God's wrath impending over them, except by setting Christ 
before their eyes. Yes, it was usual with the prophets, as 
we have reminded you, after having humbled the people by 
pronouncing on them divine vengeance, to call their atten- 
tion to Christ, as the only true asylum of those in despair. 
And wdiere the kingdom of Christ is erected there also is 
raised up that celestial Jerusalem, into which citizens from 
all parts of the world assemble. And this is what is chiefly 
included in the present prophecy : for when the Jews were 
banished from God's family, they were thus reduced to a 
common class, and put on a level with the Gentiles. The 
difference being taken away, God's mercy is now indiscrimi- 
nately extended to all the Gentiles. We hence see that the 
prophet's prediction is fitly applied to the present subject ; 
in which God declares, that after having equalized the Jews 
and the Gentiles, he would gather a Church for himself from 
aliens, so that they who were not a people would begin to 
be so. 

/ will call them my people which are not a people. This 
is said with respect to the divorce, which God had already 
made with the people, by depriving them of all honour, so 
that they did not excel other nations. Though they indeed, 


whom God in his eternal counsel has destined as sons to 
himself, are perpetually his sons, yet Scripture in many 
parts counts none to be God's children but those, the elec- 
tion of whom has been proved by their calling : and hence 
he teaches us not to judge, much less to decide, respecting 
God's election, except as far as it manifests itself by its own 
evidences. Thus Paul, after having shown to the Ephesians 
that their election and adoption had been determined by 
God before the creation of the world, shortly after declares, 
that they were once alienated from God, (Eph. ii. ] 2,) that 
is, during that time when the Lord had not manifested his 
love towards them ; though he had embraced them in his 
eternal mercy. Hence, in this passage, they are said not to 
be beloved, to whom God declares wrath rather than love : 
for until adoption reconciles men to God, we know that his 
wrath abides on them. 

The feminine gender of the participle depends on the con- 
text of the prophet ; for he had said, that a daughter had 
been born to him, to whom he gave this name, Not beloved, 
in order that the people might know that they were hated 
by God. Now as rejection was the reason for hatred, so the 
beginning of love, as the prophet teaches, is, when God 
adopts those who had been for a time strangers. 1 

27. And Isaiah exclaims, &c. He proceeds now to the 
second part, with which he was unwilling to begin, lest he 
should too much exasperate their minds. And it is not 
without a wise contrivance, that he adduces Isaiah as ex- 
claiming, not speaking, in order that he might excite more 
attention. But the words of the Prophet were evidently in- 
tended to keep the Jews from glorying too much in the 
flesh : for it was a thing dreadful to be heard, that of so 
large a multitude, a small number only would obtain salva- 
tion. For though the Prophet, after having described the 

1 The quotation is from Hosea ii. 23, and is not literal either from the 
Hebrew or from the Septuagint. The order of the verse is reversed ; and 
the word " beloved " is taken from the Septuagint. " Not beloved," in 
Hebrew, is lo-ruhamah, i.e., one not pitied, or one who has not received 
mercy : which is the same in meaning. 

In the next verse, 26, the words are taken from Hos. i. 10, and are not 
verbatim either from the Hebrew or the Septuagint, but the difference is 
very trifling. — Ed. 


devastation of the people, lest the faithful should think that 
the covenant of God was wholly abolished, gave some re- 
maining hope of favour ; yet he confined it to a few. But 
as the Prophet predicted of his own time, let us see how 
could Paul rightly apply this to his purpose. It must be in 
this sense, — When the Lord resolved to deliver his people 
from the Babylonian captivity, his purpose was, that this 
benefit of deliverance should come only to a very few of that 
vast multitude ; which might have been said to be the rem- 
nant of that destruction, when compared with the great 
number which he suffered to perish in exile. Now that tem- 
poral restoration was typical of the real renovation of the 
Church of God ; yea, it was only its commencement. What 
therefore happened then, is to be now much more com- 
pletely fulfilled as the very progress and completion of that 

28. For I ivill finish and shorten the matter, &C. 1 Omit- 
ting various interpretations, I will state what appears to me 
to be the real meaning : The Lord will so cut short, and cut 
off his people, that the residue may seem as it were a con- 
sumption, that is, may have the appearance and the vestige 
of a very great ruin. However, the few who shall remain 
from the consumption shall be a proof of the work of God's 
righteousness, or, what I prefer, shall serve to testify the 
righteousness of God throughout the world. As word often 
in Scripture means a thing, the consummated word is put 
for consumption. Many interpreters have here been grossly 
mistaken, who have attempted to philosophize with too 

1 Sermonem enim consummans et abbrevians," &c. ; b-'oyov yap, &c. It 
is literally the S&ptuagint except in two instances: Paul puts in y«-£, and 
substitutes '^ rns yvs for lv rri olxovpivri 'oXn. It is a difficult passage in 
Hebrew : but the following rendering will make it materially consistent 
with the words of the Apostle, who evidently did not intend to give the 
words literally. 

A destruction, soon executed, 

Shall overflow in righteousness ; 

For completed and soon executed shall it be ; 

The Lord, Jehovah of hosts, shall do it, 

In the midst of the whole land. 
The word rendered above " soon executed," means literally, abbreviated 
or cut short, signifying the quick execution of a thing or work. " Shall 
overflow in righteousness," imports, " shall justly or deservedly overflow." — 


much refinement ; for they have imagined, that the doc- 
trine of the gospel is thus called, because it is, when the cere- 
monies are cut off, a brief compendium of the law ; though 
the word means on the contrary a consumption. 1 And not 
only here is an error committed by the translator, but also 
in Isaiah x. 22, 23 ; xxviii. 22 ; and in Ezek. xi. 13 ; where 
it is said, " Ah ! ah ! Lord God ! wilt thou make a comple- 
tion of the remnant of Israel f But the Prophets meant to 
say, " Wilt thou destroy the very remnant with utter de- 
struction 1" And this has happened through the ambiguity 
of the Hebrew word. For as the word, j-p^, cafe, means to 
finish and to perfect, as well as to consume, this difference 
has not been sufficiently observed according to the passages 
in which it occurs. 

But Isaiah has not in this instance adopted one word only, 
but has put down two words, consumption and termination, 
or cutting off; so that the affectation of Hebraism in the 
Greek translator was singularly unseasonable ; for to what 
purpose was it to involve a sentence, in itself clear, in an 
obscure and figurative language ? It may be further added, 
that Isaiah speaks here hyperbolically ; for by consumption 
he means diminution, such as is wont to be after a remark- 
able slaughter. 

29. And as Isaiah had hefore said, &c. 2 He brings another 

1 There are many venerable names in favour of this opinion, such as 
Ambrose, Chrysostoni, Augustine, &c. Not knowing the Hebrew language, 
they attached a classical meaning to the expression, xiyov imvriTpypivov, 
wholly at variance with what the Hebrew means, as Calvin justly observes. 
The word, o-uvtet^jj^svov, in this passage, as Schleusner says, bears a mean- 
ing different from what it has in the classics ; it imports what is cut short, 
that is, quickly executed. — Ed. 

2 Isaiah i. 9. The words of the Septuagint are given literally, and differ 
only in one instance from the Hebrew ; " seed" is put for " remnant ;" but 
as " seed" in this case evidently means a small portion reserved for sowing, 
the idea of the original is conveyed. Schleusner refers to examples both 
in Josephus and Plato, in which the word " seed," is used in the sense of a 
small reserved portion. Its most common meaning in Scripture is pos- 

Paul has given " Sabaoth" from the Septuagint, which is the Hebrew 
untranslated. This word, in connection with God, is variously rendered 
by the Septuagint : for the most part in Isaiah, and in some other places, 
it is found untranslated as here ; but in the Psalms and in other books, it 
is often rendered ™» 'hma^'iuv, that is, Jehovah or Lord " of the powers," 
and often vavTCK^arai^, " omnipotent ;" and sometimes o Myioi, " the holy 


testimony from the first chapter, where the Prophet deplores 
the devastation of Israel in his time: and as this had hap- 
pened once, it was no new thing. The people of Israel had 
indeed no pre-eminence, except what they had derived from 
their ancestors ; who had yet been in such a manner treated, 
that the Prophet complained that they had been so afflicted, 
that they were not far from having been destroyed, as Sodom 
and Gomorrah had been. There was, however, this differ- 
ence, that a few were preserved for a seed, to raise up the 
name, that they might not wholly perish, and be consigned 
to eternal oblivion. For it behoved God to be ever mindful 
of his promise, so as to manifest his mercy in the midst of 
the severest judgments. 

30. What shall we say then? That 30. Quid ergo dicemus? Quod 
the Gentiles, which followed not after gentes quse non sectabantur justi- 
righteousness, have attained to right- tiam, adeptre sunt justitiam, justi- 
eousness, even the righteousness tiam autem ex fide : 

which is of faith : 

31. But Israel, which followed after 31. Israel autem sectando legem 
the law of righteousness, hath not at- justitise, ad legem justitise non per- 
tained to the law of righteousness. venit. 

32. Wherefore? Because they 32. Quare? Quia non ex fide, 
sought it not by faith, but as it were sed quasi ex operibus; ofienderunt 
by the works of the law. For they enim ad lapidem ofiensionis : 
stumbled at that stumblingstone : 

33. As it is written, Behold, I lay 33. Quemadmodum scriptum est, 
in Sion a stumblingstone and rock of Ecce pono in Sion lapidem offen- 
offence : and whosoever believeth on sionis et petram oftendiculi : et om- 
him shall not be ashamed. nis qui crediderit in eura non pude- 


30. What then, &c, That he might cut off from the Jews 
every occasion of murmuring against God, he now begins to 
show those causes, which may be comprehended by human 
minds, why the Jewish nation had been rejected. But they 
do what is absurd and invert all order, who strive to assign 
and set up causes above the secret predestination of God, 
which he has jDreviously taught us is to be counted as the 
first cause. But as this is superior to all other causes, so 
the corruption and wickedness of the ungodly afford a reason 
and an occasion for the judgments of God : and as he was 

one." But our version, " Jehovah" or "Lord of hosts," is the proper render- 
ing. It means the hosts of animate and inanimate creatures; in fact, the 
whole universe, all created tilings ; but, according to the context, it often 
specifically refers to material things, or lo things immaterial.— Ed. 


engaged on a difficult point, he introduced a question, and, 
as though he were in doubt, asked what might be said on 
the subject. 

That the Gentiles who did not pursue, &c. Nothing ap- 
peared more unreasonable, or less befitting, than that the 
Gentiles, who, having no concern for righteousness, rolled 
themselves in the lasciviousness of their flesh, should be 
called to partake of salvation, and to obtain righteousness ; 
-and that, on the other hand, the Jews, who assiduously 
laboured in the works of the law, should be excluded from 
the reward of righteousness. Paul brings forward this, which 
was so singular a paradox, in such a manner, that by adding 
a reason he softens whatever asperity there might be in it ; 
for he says, that the righteousness which the Gentiles at- 
tained was by faith ; and that it hence depends on the 
Lord's mercy, and not on man's own worthiness ; and that 
a zeal for the law, by which the Jews were actuated, was 
absurd ; for they sought to be justified by works, and thus 
laboured for what no man could attain to ; and still further, 
they stumbled at Christ, through whom alone a way is open 
to the attainment of righteousness. 

But in the first clause it was the Apostle's object to exalt 
the grace of God alone, that no other reason might be sought 
for in the calling of the Gentiles but this, — that he deigned 
to embrace them when unworthy of his favour. 

He speaks expressly of righteousness, without which there 
can be no salvation : but by saying that the righteousness 
of the Gentiles proceeded from faith, he intimates, that it 
was based on a gratuitous reconciliation ; for if any one 
imagines that they were justified, because they had by faith 
obtained the Spirit of regeneration, he departs far from the 
meaning of Paul ; it would not indeed have been true, that 
they had attained what they sought not, except God had 
freely embraced them -Mobile they were straying and wander- 
ing, and had offered thenrrighteousness, for which, being 
unknown, they could have had no desire. It must also be 
observed, that the Gentiles could not have obtained right- 
eousness by faith, except God had anticipated their faith by 
his grace ; for they followed it when they first by faith as- 


pired to righteousness ; and so faith, itself is a portion of his 

31. But Israel, by pursuing, &c. Paul openly states what 
seemed incredible, — that it was no wonder that the Jews 
gained nothing by sedulously following after righteousness ; 
for by running out of the way, they wearied themselves in 
vain. But in the first place it seems to me that the law of 
righteousness is here an instance of transposition, and means 
the righteousness of the law •} and then, that when repeated 
in the second clause, it is to be taken in another sense, as 
signifying the model or the rule of righteousness. 

The meaning then is, — " That Israel, depending on the 
righteousness of the law, even that which is prescribed in 
the law, did not understand the true method of justification." 
But there is a striking contrast in the expression, when he 
teaches us that the legal righteousness was the cause, that 
they had fallen away from the law of righteousness. 

32. Not by faith, but as it were by works, &c. As false 
zeal seems commonly to be justly excused, Paul shows that 

1 There seems to be no necessity for this transposition. " A law (not 
the law) of righteousness " means a law which prescribes righteousness, 
and which, if done, would have conferred righteousness. But the Jews 
following this did not attain to a law of righteousness, such a law as se- 
cured righteousness. The Apostle often uses the same words in the same 
verse in a different sense, and leaves the meaning to be made out by the 
context. Grotius takes " law " as meaning way, " They followed the way 
of righteousness, but did not attain to a way of righteousness." 

What follows the question in the next verse stands more connected with 
ver. 30 than with ver. 31 ; and we must consider that the word righteous- 
ness, and not law, is referred to by " it " after the verb " pursue," which 
is evidently to be understood before the words, " not by faith," &c, as the 
sentence is clearly elliptical. 

The verb lid>xi», rendered " sector " by Calvin, means strictly to pursue 
what flees away from us, whether a wild beast or an enemy ; it signifies 
also to follow a leader, and to run a race, and further, to desire, to attend 
to, or earnestly to seek a thing : and in this latter sense Paul often uses 
it. See ch. xii. 13 ; xiv. 19 ; 1 Cor. xiv. 1. Similar is the application of 
the corresponding verb, F|Tl, in Hebrew. See Deut. xvi. 20 ; Ps. xxxiv. 
14. " Qua;ro — to seek," is the word adopted by Grotius. 

But Parens and Hammond consider that there are here three agonistic 
terms, 'Snixuv, x.arixa£i, and iip6u.ffi. The first signifies the running ; the 
third, the reaching of the goal ; and the second, the laying hold on the 
prize : and with this corresponds the stumbling afterwards mentioned. 
The Gentiles did not run at all, but the Jews did, and in running, they 
stumbled ; while the Gentiles reached the goal, not by running, or by their 
own efforts, but by faith, and laid hold on the prize of righteousness. — Ed. 


they are deservedly rejected, who attempt to attain salvation 
by trusting in their own works ; for they, as far as they can, 
abolish faith, without which no salvation can be expected. 
Hence, were they to gain their object, such a success would 
be the annihilation of true righteousness. You farther see 
how faith and the merits of works are contrasted, as things 
altogether contrary to each other. As then trust in works 
is the chief hinclerance, by which our way to obtain right- 
eousness is closed up, it is necessary that we should wholly 
renounce it, in order that we may depend on God's goodness 
alone. This example of the Jews ought indeed justly to 
terrify all those who strive to obtain the kingdom of God by 
works. Nor does he understand by the works of the law, 
ceremonial observances, as it has been before shown, but the 
merits of those works to which faith is opposed, which looks, 
as I may say, with both eyes on the mercy of God alone, 
without casting one glance on any worthiness of its own. 

For they have stumbled at the stone, &c. He confirms by 
a strong reason the preceding sentence. There is indeed 
nothing more inconsistent than that they should obtain 
righteousness who strive to destroy it. Christ has been 
given to us for righteousness, whosoever obtrudes on God 
the righteousness of works, attempts to rob him of his own 
office. And hence it apjaears that whenever men, under the 
empty pretence of being zealous for righteousness, put con- 
fidence in their works, they do in their furious madness 
carry on war with God himself. 

But how they stumble at Christ, who trust in their works, 
it is not difficult to understand ; for except we own ourselves 
to be sinners, void and destitute of any righteousness of our 
own, we obscure the dignity of Christ, which consists in this, 
that to us all he is light, life, resurrection, righteousness, 
and healing. But how is he all these things, except that 
he illuminates the blind, restores the lost, quickens the dead, 
raises up those who are reduced to nothing, cleanses those 
who are full of filth, cures and heals those infected with dis- 
eases? Nay, when we claim for ourselves any righteousness, 
we in a manner contend with the power of Christ ; for his 
office is no less to beat down all the pride of the flesh, than 


to relieve and comfort those who labour and are wearied 
under their burden. 

The quotation is rightly made ; for God in that passage 
declares that he would be to the people of Juclah and of 
Israel for a rock of offence, at which they should stumble 
and fall. Since Christ is that God who spoke by the Pro- 
phets, it is no wonder that this also should be fulfilled in him. 
And by calling Christ the stone of stumbling, he reminds us 
that it is not to be wondered at if they made no progress in 
the way of righteousness, who through their wilful stub- 
bornness stumbled at the rock of offence, when God had 
showed to them the way so plainly. 1 But we must observe, 
that this stumbling does not properly belong to Christ viewed 
in himself; but, on the contrary, it is what happens through 
the wickedness of men, according to what immediately 

33. And every one who believes in him shall not be ashamed. 
He subjoins this testimony from another part for the con- 
solation of the godly ; as though he had said, " Because 
Christ is called the stone of stumbling, there is no reason 
that we should dread him, or entertain fear instead of con- 
fidence ; for he is appointed for ruin to the unbelieving, but 
for life and resurrection to the godly/' As then the former 
prophecy, concerning the stumbling and offence, is fulfilled 
in the rebellious and unbelieving, so there is another which 
is intended for the godly, and that is, that he is a firm stone, 
precious, a corner-stone, most firmly fixed, and whosoever 
builds on it shall never fall. By putting shall not be ashamed 
instead of shall not hasten or fall, he has followed the Greek 
Translator. It is indeed certain that the Lord in that pas- 
sage intended to strengthen the hope of his people : and 
when the Lord bids us to entertain good hope, it hence fol- 
lows that we cannot be ashamed. 2 Sec a passage like this 
in 1 Peter ii. 1 0. 

1 " Error is often a greater obstacle to the salvation of men than care- 
lessness or vice. . . . Let no man think error in doctrine a slight practical 
evil. No road to perdition has ever been more thronged than that of false 
doctrine. Error is a shield over the conscience and a bandage over the 
eyes." — Professor Hodge. 

2 The citation in this verse is made in a remarkable manner. The first 



1. Brethren, my heart's desire 1. Fratres, benevolentia certe 
and prayer to God for Israel is, cordis mei, et deprecatio ad Deum 
that they might be saved. super Israel, est in salutem. 

2. For I bear them record, that 2. Testimonium enim reddo illis, 
they have a zeal of God, but not quod zelum Dei habent, sed non 
according to knowledge. secundum scientiam : 

3. For they, being ignorant of 3. Ignorantes enim Dei justitiam, 
God's righteousness, and going about et propriam justitiam quserentes 
to establish their own righteousness, statuere, justitiae Dei subjecti non 
have not submitted themselves unto fuerunt ; 

the righteousness of God. 

4. For Christ is the end of the 4. Finis enim Legis Christus in 
law for righteousness to every one justitiam omni credenti. 1 

that believeth. 

We here see with what solicitude the holy man obviated 
offences ; for in order to soften whatever sharpness there 
may have been in his manner of explaining the rejection of 
the Jews, he still testifies, as before, his goodwill towards 
them, and proves it by the effect ; for their salvation was 
an object of concern to him before the Lord, and such a 
feeling arises only from genuine love. It may be at the 
same time that he was also induced by another reason to 
testify his love towards the nation from which he had sprung ; 
for his doctrine would have never been received by the Jews 
had they thought that he was avowedly inimical to them ; 
and his defection would have been also suspected by the 
Gentiles, for they would have thought, as we have said in 
the last chapter, that he became an apostate from the law 
through his hatred of men. 2 

part, "Behold I lay in Zion," is taken from Is. xxviii. 16; what follows, 
" a stone of stumbling and rock of offence," is taken from Is. viii. 14 : and 
then the last words, " and whosoever believes in him shall not be ashamed," 
are given from the preceding passage in Is. xxviii. 16. The subject is the 

With respect to the last clause Paul has followed the Septuagint, " shall 
not be ashamed." But the Hebrew word, rendered in oiir version " shall 
not make haste," will bear a similar meaning, and may be translated, shall 
not hurry or be confounded. — Ed. 

1 The yap, " for," at the beginning of this verse, connects it with the 
latter part of the preceding, as the ya%, " for," in the preceding connects it 
with the latter part of verse 2 ; and yap also in verse 5 expresses a reason 
for what verse 4 contains. So that we have a regular chain ; the following 
sentence gives a reason for the one immediately preceding in four instances. 
— Ed. 

2 Calvin's Latin for this verse is : " Fratres, benevolentia certe cordis 


2. For I bear to them a testimony, &c. This was intended 
to secure credit to his love. There was indeed a just cause 
why he should regard them with compassion rather than 
hatred, since he perceived that they had fallen only through 
ignorance, and not through malignancy of mind, and espe- 
cially as he saw that they were not led except by some re- 
gard for God to persecute the kingdom of Christ. Let us 
hence learn where our good intentions may guide us, if we 
yield to them. It is commonly thought a good and a very 
fit excuse, when he who is reproved pretends that he meant 
no harm. And this pretext is held good by many at this 
day, so that they apply not their minds to find out the 
truth of God, because they think that whatever they do 
amiss through ignorance, without any designed malicious- 
ness, but with good intention, is excusable. But no one of 
us would excuse the Jews for having crucified Christ, for 
having cruelly raged against the Apostles, and for having 
attempted to destroy and extinguish the gospel ; and yet 
they had the same defence as that in which we confidently 
glory. Away then with these vain evasions as to good in- 
tention ; if we seek God sincerely, let us follow the way by 
which alone we can come to him. For it is better, as 
Augustine says, even to go limping in the right way than to 
run with all our might out of the way. If we would be 
really religious, let us remember that what Lactantius teaches 
is true, that true religion is alone that which is connected 
with the word of God. 1 

mei et deprecatio ad Deum super Israel est in salutem — Brethren, the good- 
will indeed of my heart and prayer to God for Israel is for their salvation." 
The word for " goodwill," ttiorJa, means a kind disposition towards another, 
it means here a benevolent or a sincere desire, or, according to Theophylact, 
an earnest desire. Doddridge renders it " affectionate desire ;" Beza, " pro- 
pensa voluntas — propense wish ;" and Stuart, "kind desire." 

At the beginning of the last chapter the Apostle expressed his great 
grief for his brethren the Jews, he now expresses his great love towards 
them, and his strong desire for their highest good — their salvation. — Ed. 

1 " A zeal of God," Z,-hxov QinZ, is a zeal for God, a genitive case of the 
object. Some regard " God" here as meaning something great, as it is 
sometimes used in Hebrew, and render the phrase, as Macknight does, " a 
great zeal ;" but this is not required by the context. The Jews had pro- 
fessedly " a zeal for God," but not accompanied with knowledge. The 
necessity of knowledge as the guide of zeal is noted by Turrettin in four 
particulars : 1 . That we may distinguish truth from falsehood, as there 


And further, since we see that they perish, who with 
good intention wander in darkness, let ns bear in mind, that 
we are worthy of thousand deaths, if after having been illu- 
minated by God, we wander knowingly and wilfully from 
the right way. 

3. For being ignorant of the righteousness of God, &c. See 
how they went astray through inconsiderate zeal ! for they 
sought to set up a righteousness of their own ; and this 
foolish confidence proceeded from their ignorance of God's 
righteousness. Notice the contrast between the righteous- 
ness of God and that of men. We first see, that they are 
opposed to one another, as things wholly contrary, and can- 
not stand together. It hence follows, that God's righteous- 
ness is subverted, as soon as men set up their own. And 
again, as there is a correspondence between the things con- 
trasted, the righteousness of God is no doubt his gift ; and 
in like manner, the righteousness of men is that which they 
derive from themselves, or believe that they bring before 
God. Then he who seeks to be justified through himself, 
submits not to God's righteousness ; for the first step towards 
obtaining the righteousness of God is to renounce our own 
righteousness : for why is it, that we seek righteousness 
from another, except that necessity constrains us ? 

We have already stated, in another place, how men put 
on the righteousness of God by faith, that is, when the 
righteousness of Christ is imputed to them. But Paul 
grievously dishonours the pride by which hypocrites are in- 
flated, when they cover it with the specious mask of zeal ; 
for he says, that all such, by shaking off as it were the yoke, 
are adverse to and rebel against the righteousness of God. 

4. For the end of the law is Christ, &c.' The word com- 
pletion, 1 seems not to me unsuitable in this place ; and Eras- 

may be zeal for error and false doctrine as well as for that which is true ; 
2. That we may understand the comparative importance of things, so as 
not to make much of what is little, and make little account of what is 
great ; 3. That we may prosecute and defend the truth in the right way, 
with prudence, firmness, fidelity, and meekness; 4. That our zeal may 
have the right object, not our own interest and reputation, but the glory of 
God and the salvation of men. — Ed. 

1 " Complementum — the complement," the filling up, the completion. 
The word ri\os, « end," is used in various ways, as signifying — 1. The 


mus has rendered it perfection : but as the other reading is 
almost universally approved, and is not inappropriate, read- 
ers, for my part, may retain it. 

The Apostle obviates here an objection which might have 
been made against him ; for the Jews might have appeared 
to have kept the right way by depending on the righteous- 
ness of the law. It was necessary for him to disprove this 
false opinion ; and this is what he does here. He shows 
that he is a false interpreter of the law, who seeks to be jus- 
tified by his own works ; because the law had been given 
for this end, — to lead us as by the hand to another right- 
eousness : nay, whatever the law teaches, whatever it com- 
mands, whatever it promises, has always a reference to 
Christ as its main object ; and hence all its parts ought to 
be applied to him. But this cannot be done, except we, 
being stripped of all righteousness, and confounded with the 
knowledge of our sin, seek gratuitous righteousness from 
him alone. 

It hence follows, that the wicked abuse of the law was 
justly reprehended in the Jews, who absurdly made an ob- 
stacle of that which was to be their help : nay, it appears 
that they had shamefully mutilated the law of God ; for they 

termination of any thing, either of evils, or of life, &c, Matt. x. 22; 
John xiii. 1 ; — 2. Completion or fulfilment, Lnke xxii. 37 ; 1 Tim. i. 9 ; — 
3. The issue, the effect, the consequence, the result, chap. vi. 21 ; 1 Pet. 
i. 9 ; 2 Cor. xi. 15; — 4. Tribute or custom, chap. xiii. 7; — 5. The chief 
thing, summary or substance, 1 Pet. iii. 8. 

The meaning of the word depends on what is connected with it. The 
end of evils, or of life, is their termination ; the end of a promise is its ful- 
filment ; the end of a command, its performance or obedience ; the end of 
faith is salvation. In such instances, the general idea is the result, or the 
effect, or the consequence. Now the law may be viewed as an economy, 
comprising the whole Jewish law, not perfect, but introductory ; in this 
view Christ may be said to be its end — its perfection or " its landing place." 
But we may also regard the law in its moral character, as the rule and 
condition of life ; then the end of the law is its fulfilment, the performance 
of what it requires in order to attain life : and Christ in this respect is its 
end, having rendered to it perfect obedience. This last meaning is most 
consistent with the words which follow, and with the Apostle's argument. 
The first view is taken by Chrysostom, Beza, Turrettin, as well as Calvin ; 
the second, by Mede, Stuart, and Cludmers. There is really not much 
difference in the two views ; only the sequel of the verse, " for righteous- 
ness to every one who believes," and the opposite sentiment in the next 
verse, " the man who doeth these shall live in (or through) them," seem 
to favour the latter view. — Ed. 

CHAP. X. 5. 



rejected its soul, and seized on the dead body of the letter. 
For though the law promises reward to those who observe 
its righteousness, it yet substitutes, after having proved all 
guilty, another righteousness in Christ, which is not attained 
by works, but is received by faith as a free gift. Thus the 
righteousness of faith, (as we have seen in the first chapter,) 
receives a testimony from the law. We have then here a 
remarkable passage, which proves that the law in all its 
parts had a reference to Christ ; and hence no one can 
rightly understand it, who does not continually level at 
this mark. 

5. For Moses describeth the right- 
eousness which is of the law, That 
the man which doeth those things 
shall live by them. 

6. But the righteousness which is 
of faith speaketh on this wise, Say 
not in thine heart, Who shall ascend 
into heaven ? (that is, to bring Christ 
down from above :) 

7. Or, Who shall descend into the 
deep? (that is, to bring up Christ 
again from the dead.) 

8. But what saithit? The word is 
nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in 
thy heart : that is, the word of faith 
which we preach ; 

9. That if thou shalt confess with 
thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt 
believe in thine heart that God hath 
raised him from the dead, thou shalt 
be saved. 

10. For with the heart man be- 
lieveth unto righteousness ; and with 
the mouth confession is made unto 

5. Moses enim describit justitiam 
qua? est ex Lege, Quod qui fecerit 
ea homo vivet in ipsis. 

6. Quae vero est ex fide justitia 
sic dicit, Ne dixeris in corde tuo, 
Quis ascendet in coelum ? hoc est 
Christum deducere : 

7. Aut, Quis descendet in abys- 
sum ? hoc est Christum ex mortuis 
reducere : 

8. Sed quid elicit ? Prope est ver- 
bum, in ore tuo et in corde tuo ; 
hoc est verbum fidei quod prsedi- 

9. Quod si confessus fueris in ore 
tuo Dominum Iesum, et credideris 
in corde tuo quod Deus suscitavit 
ilium ex mortuis, salvus eris : 

10. Corde enim creditur in jus- 
titiam, ore fit confessio in salutem. 

5. For Moses, &c. To render it evident how much at 
variance is the righteousness of faith and that of works, he 
now compares them ; for by comparison the opposition be- 
tween contrary things appears more clear. But he refers 
not now to the oracles of the Prophets, but to the testimony 
of Moses, and for this reason, — that the Jews might under- 
stand that the law was not given by Moses in order to de- 
tain them in a dependence on works, but, on the contrary, to 



lead them to Christ. He might have indeed referred to the 
Prophets as witnesses ; but still this doubt must have re- 
mained, " How was it that the law prescribed another rule 
of righteousness V He then removes this, and in the best 
manner, when by the teaching of the law itself he confirms 
the- righteousness of faith. 

But we ought to understand the reason why Paul har- 
monizes the law with faith, and yet sets the righteousness of 
one in opposition to that of the other: — The law has a two- 
fold meaning ; it sometimes includes the whole of what has 
been taught by Moses, and sometimes that part only which 
was peculiar to his ministration, which consisted of precepts, 
rewards, and punishments. But Moses had this common 
office — to teach the people the true rule of religion. Since 
it was so, it behoved him to preach repentance and faith ; 
but faith is not taught, except by propounding promises of 
divine mercy, and those gratuitous : and thus it behoved him 
to be a preacher of the gospel ; which office he faithfully 
performed, as it appears from many passages. In order to 
instruct the people in the doctrine of repentance, it was 
necessary for him to teach what manner of life was ac- 
ceptable to God ; and this he included in the precepts 
of the law. That he might also instil into the minds of 
the people the love of righteousness, and implant in them 
the hatred of iniquity, promises and threatenings Were 
added ; which proposed rewards to the just, and denounced 
dreadful punishments on sinners. It was now the duty 
of the people to consider in how many ways they drew 
•curses on themselves, and how far they were from deserv- 
ing anything at God's hands by their works, that being 
thus led to despair as to their own righteousness, they 
might flee to the haven of divine goodness, and so to 
Christ himself. This was the end or design of the Mosaic 

But as evangelic promises are only found scattered in 
the writings of Moses, and these also somewhat obscure, and 
as the precepts and rewards, allotted to the observers of the 
law, frequently occur, it rightly appertained to Moses as his 
own and peculiar office, to teach what is the real righteous- 


ness of works, and then to show what remuneration awaits 
the observance of it, and what punishment awaits those 
who come short of it. For this reason Moses is by John 
compared with Christ, when it is said, " That the law was 
given by Moses, but that grace and truth came by Christ." 
(John i. 17.) And whenever the word law is thus strictly 
taken, Moses is by implication opposed to Christ : and then 
we must consider what the law contains, as separate from 
the gospel. Hence what is said here of the righteousness of 
the law, must be applied, not to the whole office of Moses, 
but to that part which was in a manner peculiarly com- 
mitted to him. I cOme now to the words. 

For Moses describes, &c. Paul has ypdfec, writes ; which 
is used for a verb which means to describe, by taking away 
a part of it [e7rtypd(f)€i.] The passage is taken from Lev. 
xviii. 5, where the Lord promises eternal life to those who 
would keep his law ; for in this sense, as you see, Paul has 
taken the passage, and not only of temporal life, as some 
think. Paul indeed thus reasons, — " Since no man can 
attain the righteousness prescribed in the law, except he 
fulfils strictly every part of it, and since of this perfection 
all men have always come far short, it is in vain for any one 
to strive in this way for salvation : Israel then were very 
foolish, who expected to attain the righteousness of the law, 
from which we are all excluded." See how from the pro- 
mise itself he proves, that it can avail us nothing, and for 
this reason, because the condition is impossible. What a 
futile device it is then to allege legal promises, in order to 
establish the righteousness of the law ! For with these an 
unavoidable curse comes to us ; so far is it, that salvation 
should thence proceed. The more detestable on this account 
is the stupidity of the Papists, who think it enough to prove 
merits by adducing bare promises. " It is not in vain," they 
say, " that Grod has promised life to his servants." But at 
the same time they see not that it has been promised, in 
order that a consciousness of their own transgressions may 
strike all with the fear of death, and that being thus con- 
strained by their own deficiency, they may learn to flee to 


6. But the righteousness 1 which is by faith, &c. This pas- 
sage is such as may not a little disturb the reader, and for 
two reasons — for it seems to be improperly applied by Paul — 
and the words are also turned to a different meaning. Of 
the words we shall hereafter see what may be said: we shall 
first notice the application. It is a passage taken from Deut. 
xxx. 12, where, as in the former passage, Moses speaks of 
the doctrine of the law, and Paul applies it to evangelic 
promises. This knot may be thus untied: — Moses shows, 
that the way to life was made plain : for the will of God was 
not now hid from the Jews, nor set far off from them, but 
placed before their eyes. If he had spoken of the law only, 
his reasoning would have been frivolous, since the law of 
God being set before their eyes, it was not easier to do it, 
than if it was afar off. He then means not the law only, 
but generally the whole of God's truth, which includes in it 
the gospel : for the word of the law by itself is never in our 
heart, no, not the least syllable of it, until it is implanted in 
us by the faith of the gospel. And then, even after regener- 
ation, the word of the law cannot properly be said to be in 
our heart ; for it demands perfection, from which even the 
faithful are far distant : but the word of the gospel has a 
seat in the heart, though it does not fill the heart ; for it 
offers pardon for imperfection and defect. And Moses 
throughout that chapter, as also in the fourth, endeavours to 
commend to the people the remarkable kindness of God, 
because he had taken them under his own tuition and 
government, which commendation could not have belonged 
to the law only. It is no objection that Moses there speaks 
of forming the life according to the rule of the law ; for the 
spirit of regeneration is connected with the gratuitous 
righteousness of faith. Nor is there a doubt but that this 
verse depends on that main truth, " The Lord shall circum- 
cise thine heart/' which he had recorded shortly before in 
the same chapter. They may therefore be easily disproved, 
who say that Moses speaks only in that passage of good 
works. That he sj>eaks of works I indeed allow ; but I 

1 Righteousness is here personified, according to the usual manner of the 
Apostle : law and sin had before been represented in the same way. — Ed. 


deny it to be unreasonable, that the keeping of the law should 
be traced from its own fountain, even from the righteousness 
of faith. The explanation of the words must now follow. 1 

Say not in thine heart, Who shall ascend? &c. Moses 
mentions heaven and the sea, as places remote and difficult 
of access to men. But Paul, as though there was some spi- 
ritual mystery concealed under these words, applies them to 
the death and resurrection of Christ. If any one thinks that 
this interpretation is too strained and too refined, let him 
understand that it was not the object of the Apostle strictly 
to explain this passage, but to apply it to the explanation of 
his present subject. He does not, therefore, repeat verbally 
what Moses has said, but makes alterations, by which he ac- 
commodates more suitably to his own purpose the testimony 
of Moses. He spoke of inaccessible places ; Paul refers to 
those, which are indeed hid from the sight of us all, and 
may yet be seen by our faith. If then you take these things 
as spoken for illustration, or by way of improvement, you 
cannot say that Paul has violently or inaptly changed the 
words of Moses ; but you will, on the contrary, allow, that 
without loss of meaning, he has, in a striking manner, al- 
luded to the words heaven and the sea. 

Let us now then simply explain the words of Paul : — As 
the assurance of our salvation lies on two foundations, that 
is, when we understand, that life has been obtained for us, 
and death has been conquered for us, he teaches us that faith 
through the word of the gospel is sustained by both these; 
for Christ, by dying, destroyed death, and by rising again he 

1 It seems not necessary to have recourse to the distinctions made in the 
foregoing section. The character of the quotation given is correctly de- 
scribed in the words of CJirysostom, as quoted by Poole, " Paulus ea trans- 
tulit et aptavit ad justitiam fidei — Paul transferred and accommodated 
these things to the righteousness of faith." He evidently borrowed the 
words of Moses, not literally, but substantially, for the purpose of setting 
forth the truth he was handling. The speaker is not Moses, but " the 
righteousness of faith," represented as a person. Luther, as quoted by 
Wolfius, says, that " Paul, under the influence of the Spirit, took from 
Moses the occasion to form, as it were, a new and a suitable text against 
the justiciaries." It appears to be an application, by way of analogy, of 
the words of Moses to the gospel, and not a confirmatory testimony. 
Chalmers hesitates on the subject ; but Pareus, Wolfius, Turrettin, and 
Doddridge, consider the words as applied by way of accommodation. — Ed. 


obtained life in his own power. The benefit of Christ's 
death and resurrection is now communicated to us by the 
gospel: there is then no reason for us to seek anything 
farther. That it may thus appear, that the righteousness of 
faith is abundantly sufficient for salvation, he teaches us, 
that included in it are these two things, which are alone 
necessary for salvation. The import then of the words, 
Who shall ascend into heaven ? is the same, as though you 
should say, " Who knows whether the inheritance of eternal 
and celestial life remains for us?" And the words, Who 
shall descend into the deep f mean the same, as though you 
should say, " Who knows whether the everlasting destruc- 
tion of the soul follows the death of the body ?" He teaches 
us, that doubt on those two points is removed by the right- 
eousness of faith ; for the one would draw down Christ from 
heaven, and the other would bring him up again from death. 
Christ's ascension into heaven ought indeed fully to confirm 
our faith as to eternal life ; for he in a manner removes 
Christ himself from the possession of heaven, who doubts 
whether the inheritance of heaven is prepared for the faith- 
ful, in whose name, and on whose account he has entered 
thither. Since in like manner he underwent the horrors of 
hell to deliver us from them, to doubt whether the faithful 
are still exposed to this misery, is to render void, and, as it 
were, to deny his death. 

8. What does it say . ?1 For the purpose of removing the 
impediments of faith, he has hitherto spoken negatively : but 
now in order to show the way of obtaining righteousness, he 
adopts an affirmative mode of speaking. Though the whole 
might have been announced in one continuous sentence, yet 
a question is interposed for the sake of exciting attention : 
and his object at the same time was to show how great is 
the difference between the righteousness of the law and that 
of the gospel ; for the one, showing itself at a distance, re- 
strains all men from coming nigh ; but the other, offering 
itself at hand, kindly invites us to a fruition of itself, Nigh 
thee is the word. 

1 " The righteousness of faith" is evidently the "it" in this question: 
See ver. 6. — Ed. 


It must be further observed, that lest the minds of men, 
being led away by crafts, should wander from the way of 
salvation, the limits of the word are prescribed to them, 
within which they are to keep themselves : for it is the same 
as though he had bidden them to be satisfied with the word 
only, and reminded them, that in this mirror those secrets 
of heaven are to be seen, which would otherwise by their 
brightness dazzle their eyes, and would also stun their ears 
and overpower the mind itself. 

Hence the faithful derive from this passage remarkable 
consolation with regard to the certainty of the word ; for 
they may no less safely rest on it, than on what is actually 
present. It must also be noticed, that the word, by which 
we have a firm and calm trust as to our salvation, had been 
set forth even by Moses : 

This is the word of faith. Rightly does Paul take this as 
granted ; for the doctrine of the law does by no means ren- 
der the conscience quiet and calm, nor supply it with what 
ought to satisfy it. He does not, however, exclude other 
parts of the word, no, not even the precepts of the law ; 
but his design is, to show that remission of sins stands for 
righteousness, even apart from that strict obedience which 
the law demands. Sufficient then for pacifying minds, and 
for rendering certain our salvation, is the word of the gospel ; 
in which we are not commanded to earn righteousness by 
works, but to embrace it, when offered gratuitously, by faith. 

The word of faith is to be taken for the word of promise, 
that is, for the gospel itself, because it bears a relation to 
faith. 1 The contrast, by which the difference between the 
law and the gospel appears, is indeed to be understood : and 
from this distinction we learn, — that as the law demands 
works, so the gospel requires nothing else, but that men 
bring faith to receive the grace of God. The words, which 
we preach, are added, that no one might have the suspicion 
that Paul differed from Moses ; for he testifies, that in the 
ministration of the gospel there was complete consent be- 

1 It is " the word " which requires " faith," and is received by faith ; or 
it is the word entitled to faith, worthy of being believed ; or it is the word 
which generates and supports faith. — Ed. 


tween him and Moses ; inasmuch as even Moses placed our 
felicity in nothing else but in the gratuitous promise of 
divine favour. 

9. That if thou wilt confess, &c. Here is also an allusion, 
rather than a proper and strict quotation : for it is very 
probable that Moses used the word mouth, by taking a part 
for the whole, instead of the word face, or sight. But it was 
not unsuitable for the Apostle to allude to the word mouth, 
in this manner : — " Since the Lord sets his word before our 
face, no doubt he calls upon us to confess it." For wherever 
the word of the Lord is, it ought to bring forth fruit ; and 
the fruit is the confession of the mouth. 

By putting confession before faith, he changes the order, 
which is often the case in Scripture : for the order would 
have been more regular if the faith of the heart had pre- 
ceded, and the confession of the mouth, which arises from it, 
had followed. 1 But lie rightly confesses the Lord Jesus, 
who adorns him with his own power, acknowledging him to 
be such an one as he is given by the Father, and described 
in the gospel. 

Express mention is made only of Christ's resurrection ; 
which must not be so taken, as though his death was of no 
moment, but because Christ, by rising again, completed the 
whole work of our salvation : for though redemption and 
satisfaction were effected by his death, through which we 
are reconciled to God ; yet the victory over sin, death, and 

1 " He puts ' mouth ' before ' heart/ " says Parens, " for he follows the 
order in which they are given by Moses, and for this reason, because we 
know not faith otherwise than by possession." 

This is one of the many instances both in the New and Old Testament, 
in which the most apparent act is mentioned first, and then the most hid- 
den, or in which the deed is stated first, and then the principle from which 
it proceeds. See ch. xiii. 13; xv. 13. And we have here another in- 
stance of the Apostle's style ; he reverses the order in the 10th verse, 
mentioning faith first, and confession last. The two verses may be thus 
rendered, — 

9. That if thou wilt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, 

And believe in thine heart that God raised him from the dead, 
Thou shalt be saved : 

10. For with the heart we believe unto righteousness, 
And with the mouth we confess unto salvation. 

He begins and ends with confession, and in the middle clauses he men- 
tions faith. — Ed. 


Satan was attained by his resurrection ; and hence also came 
righteousness, newness of life, and the hope of a blessed im- 
mortality. And thus is resurrection alone often set before 
us as the assurance of our salvation, not to draw away our 
attention from his death, but because it bears witness to the 
efficacy and fruit of his death : in short, his resurrection 
includes his death. On this subject we have briefly touched 
in the sixth chapter. 

It may be added, that Paul requires not merely an his- 
torical faith, but he makes the resurrection itself its end. 
For we must remember the purpose for which Christ rose 
again ; — it was the Father's design in raising him, to restore 
us all to life : for though Christ had power of himself to re- 
assume his soul, yet this work is for the most part ascribed 
in Scripture to God the Father. 

10. For with the heart we believe 1 unto righteousness, &c. 
This passage may help us to understand what justification 
by faith is ; for it shows that righteousness then comes to 
us, when we embrace God's goodness offered to us in the 
gospel. We are then for this reason just, because we believe